Notre Dame Academy s Kelsey Brickman stood on the pitcher s rubber one strike away from defeating defending state champion St. Ursula Academy for the third time in as many tries this season.
Slipping a pitch past St. Ursula s Hayley Wiemer or forcing the Arrows ace to hit into the final out with a runner on third was all that was needed for the Eagles to come out on top in the Division I district final yesterday at Rolf Park.
Wiemer, as well as Audrey Tucholski, refused to cooperate.
Wiemer tied the score at 1 with a two-out, run-scoring single through the middle of the infield and Tucholski followed with a booming two-run home run to lead St. Ursula to a 3-1 victory over its City League foe.
Wiemer, who was celebrating her 18th birthday, also came through by tossing a three-hitter while striking out 12 and walking none.
This is by far the best birthday present I could ever imagine, Wiemer said. We came out before the game and said we were not going to let them end our season. We were not going to let them take our lunch money.
The Arrows (26-2), who will face Perrysburg on Thursday
at Genoa in a regional semifinal, trailed 1-0 in the fourth after the Eagles Alison Trojan reached base with a single and eventually scored when she stole third base and was awarded home on an interference call.
Tucholski, who dropped a ball at home plate in a loss to Notre Dame on Monday in the City League final, put the Arrows over the top when she jumped on Brickman s first pitch after Wiemer s hit and muscled it over the fence in left. It was Tucholski s third home run of the season.
However, it ranks No. 1 all-time for the Arrows starting catcher.
It was huge, Tucholski said. My coach told me I was going to get the game-winning hit.
Despite stranding eight runners prior to the seventh, St. Ursula coach Steve Parrill never thought his team showed any signs of conceding.
They were champions last year for a reason, Parrill said. They never gave up.
Nonetheless, Parrill believes Notre Dame (22-8) deserves credit for taking the Arrows to the limit. The Eagles, who have won the City League title the past two seasons, are the only team to have defeated the Arrows in St. Ursula s last 35 games dating back to last season. St. Ursula is 32-3 but 1-3 against Notre Dame during that stretch.
Notre Dame is an outstanding team, he said. We beat a great team.
Notre Dame coach Jordan Stevens said he s not second-guessing the decision to pitch to Wiemer when they could have intentionally walked her and pitched to Tucholski, who had been 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
We had two outs and unfortunately she [Wiemer] came through with a hit; but you re not going to come through with a hit all the time, Stevens said. You have to give St. Ursula credit. They came through with some big hits.
The Arrows had been getting on base rather frequently against Brickman, who allowed three runs on seven hits while walking five and striking out seven. The Arrows wasted a number of opportunities, including Tucholski striking out with the bases loaded to end the fifth.
But Wiemer expected her battery mate to do something special when she stepped into the batter s box in the seventh.
She had flames in her eyes she was so ready, Wiemer said. It was an absolutely perfect way to win because she was going to avenge that [City League title loss].
They can have the City. We want the big one.
Tucholski admits the Arrows were looking to settle the score.
As a team, we wanted to get them off our backs, Tucholski said. It was an added bonus to get the win on Hayley s birthday.
Contact Donald Emmons at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6302.