VERNON – Heading into the year, it was the exact matchup they wanted.
Brookfield softball wanted another crack at Mathews after last season’s district final. But before that could happen, the rising stars of the Northeastern Athletic Conference, Chalker, stood in their way.
They battled early-morning rain that canceled games across the area, roaring winds, a lightning delay that paused the game for 30 minutes and when the dust finally settled, literally, Brookfield was left standing in a 3-2 victory over the Wildcats.
Given everything else that happened surrounding the game, it makes sense that a few simple hits was all it took to decide a winner.
The game resumed after the delay in the bottom of the sixth, with the same score. Six outs later, Brookfield pitcher Miranda Nicholson rushed the plate to embrace catcher Katie Gibson, elated that they battled through everything to get the win.
“Once you get to the playoffs, it seems like you get a lot of lower-scoring games,” Warriors coach Dave DeJoy said. “You have to do more things to try to manufacture runs. The first game (Mathews and Badger) was 1-0; ours was 3-2. Miranda and Katie worked together very, very well again. I’m very happy with them. We did offensively enough. I’d like to see our bats be a little bit more active than they were tonight, but it was just kind of an interesting evening. ”
Anna Reichart recorded two hits, one of which scored both Sophie Hook and Abby DeJoy in the bottom of the third inning. All five runs in the game were scored in that frame.
Chalker’s season ends at 9-6. They’re returning a solid core of junior pitcher Natalie Piecuch, sophomore centerfielder Gabby Nieves and freshman shortstop Sam Strock. With a solid crop of freshmen coming in, the Wildcats have high hopes for next year.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to build up for the future,” Wildcats coach Rich Hudak said. “One of our other goals was to get to (the district semifinals). We accomplished that last week. We were happy with that, but we weren’t going to just settle down. This week from the last game to today, that’s what we were stressing.
“We were going to be here and we’re going to play our hardest and whatever happens, happens. … We have a great group returning and we’re going to continue building this year and we hope to be back next year. ”
Up next for the Warriors is Mathews. A team they’ve been hoping to get another chance against. Last season, the teams met in the district final, with the Mustangs coming out on top 11-1. While nerves will be a factor, DeJoy is hoping to harness that into a positive outcome.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve been targeting them, but we hoped to have another chance to play them and play them better than we did the first time,” DeJoy said. “Young ladies, and I think young men too, you’re always going to have an element of nerves. What I always try to tell our girls is that if you can convert the nerves and create that as positive energy for the game, and not allow it to affect you. We want positive energy where you’re excited and ready to play, and keep your focus level as you play. That’s kind of what we try to do.
“I know there’ll be some nerves come Wednesday night, and there’ll be some interesting thoughts, I’m sure in everybody’s heads about what if what will happen, what can happen, what you know what might happen. We’re just going to try to have a good practice tomorrow, prepare ourselves, give them our scouting report and try to execute on Wednesday. ”
Start time for Wednesday’s tilt is set for 5 pm at Joseph Badger High School. The winner will advance to the regional semifinal at Strongsville.