The sectional semi final features a rematch of last year’s sectional championship game where Neuqua Valley fell to Plainfield North by a score of 11-3. The Tigers Tigers went on to win the 4A state championship over Hersey.
The Wildcats send the losing pitcher in last year’s matchup to the mound in this game and Anthony Sterchele is ready for some revenge as he gets Patrick Miller to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the 2nd.
Bottom three, two out runner at 1st and 2nd for NV, Nolan Clifford rips a fastball from Dylan Szajkovics into right field, Matt Hill comes around to score from 2nd as the Wildcats lead 1-0.
The next batter is Justin Blazek but Clifford gets caught in a rundown trying to steal 2nd, Ethan Schreier heads for home and a great play by Tigers catcher Greg Budig to catch the off line throw and tag out Schreier to end the inning.
Top of the 5th and Sterchele cruising now as he gets Aiden Campbell swinging. Five innings of one hit ball for the tall right hander.
Bottom 5, sacks packed full of cats for Ethan Schreier with one out, he lines a hard one to short, Ryan Tribe can’t field it cleanly and everyone is safe as Sam Vanderhayden comes in to score to make it 2-0 Neuqua.
Up next is Nolan Clifford, he lines out to left field, but that will bring in Matt Hill from third for a sac fly. Wildcats lead 3-0 after 5.
After a leadoff walk to start the 6th, Clifford comes in to try to get the final six outs for Neuqua. After a nearly 5 minute at bat, Aaron Cook hits a sharp grounder to Justin Blazek at first, he steps on the bag and throws to Nick Taylor covering 2nd for a big double play.
Clifford then ends the 6th with a strikeout of Cameron Kissel to put the Wildcats three outs away from the sectional final.
Top of the 7th, two down with a runner on 2nd, Clifford closes the door as he strikes out Patrick Miller swinging, Kevin Butler makes the throw down to first in time and Neuqua Valley knocks out the defending champs with a combined complete game two hit shutout over Plainfield North. The Wildcats will face Plainfield Central in the sectional championship.
Post season softball just came to an end, check out how the area’s teams did in our Girls Sports Highlights!