RIO GRANDE – By Notre Dame head coach J.D. McKenzie’s standards, Notre Dame junior Cassie Schaefer didn’t have her best stuff Thursday night. The scary part of that statement is that Schaefer didn’t have her best stuff, and still pitched an incredible game against a South Webster team that has put up big run totals against Division IV competition throughout the regular season.
A three hit performance on the mound from Schaefer might not have been her best stuff, but that, alongside some heady baserunning and timely hits helped lift the Titans to a 6-0 Division IV district semifinal win over South Webster at the University of Rio Grande Thursday evening.
“We did some good things tonight,” McKenzie said following the win. “We talked about some of the things we needed to do before the game: timely hits, run the bases well, put some pressure on them to try and force some errors. We were able to get the lead early because of those things. Cassie didn’t have her best stuff tonight, but after the first inning she was dealing, had her speed. She’s done what she’s done all year, did a really good job for us.”
After Thursday’s shutout win over the Jeeps, Notre Dame has now won 12 of their 21 wins via shutout in 2019. To parlay that, Notre Dame has now held their opponents to two runs or less in 16 of their 23 games played this season.
By game’s end, Schaefer finished with a complete game shutout in seven innings allowing just three hits, zero walks, and striking out seven Jeep batters. Schaefer not only had a big day on the mound, but at the plate as well finishing 3/4 with a game high two RBI and one run scored in the Titans win.
“I’m proud of the girls,” South Webster head coach Andy Messer said. “I felt that the score was a little closer than what the score said. I think if I look back, we committed six errors. But when you have that stuff happen, that’s the ball game. Schaefer threw a heck of a game, I expect to see Notre Dame go past the district level and into regionals, and good luck to them.”
It wasn’t just Schaefer who hit the ball well for Notre Dame in Thursday’s game, however. Isabel Cassidy finished 2/4 at the plate with two runs scored, Taylor Schmidt finished 2/2 with a HBP and an RBI, Madi Suter finished ¼ with one run scored and an RBI, freshman Madison Brown finished 3/4 with an RBI, and Paetyn Collins finished 1/1 with an RBI single in her pinch hit appearance in the sixth inning.
“We got some good hits in bunches, right there in the late innings to get some runs in,” McKenzie said. “I thought Madi Brown had a big game, a freshman stepping up. I thought that last one she got was maybe the hardest hit ball she had all night. Our defense was solid, that’s the way you have to be this time of year. Don’t commit errors, get timely hits, play some small ball.”
South Webster loses three seniors to graduation: Bri Smith, Taylor Rawlins, and Kaylea McCleese. More than anything, Messer admits he’ll miss their leadership on and off the field as the Jeeps look forward into next season.
“These girls are great,” Messer said. “I had these girls way back in little league. They moved on up, and I had spent a few years away from them. It was good to come back last year with them, and they responded well to getting back together. They’re good leaders: they show up, they’re the first ones to come out of the dugout to help with the field, the last ones to leave the field taking the trash out. They’re a great group of girls and their leadership will definitely be missed.”
As for Notre Dame, their season continues in the do-or-die stages of tournament play with a Division IV district final matchup against Waterford Saturday at 1:00 p.m. right back at the University of Rio Grande.
For McKenzie and his group to claim the school’s third district championship in girls’ athletics this school year (volleyball, basketball), it’ll take another performance like they showcased Thursday night.
“A lot of the same stuff. Being solid defensively, Cassie keeping them off balance, us being able to get runners on and move them across however necessary. We did a little bit of that tonight and we’ll have to do more of that Saturday. There’s no girl in our lineup we won’t bunt if we need to, no matter how good of a hitter they are if they situation dictates that. Looking forward to getting the change to avenge last year’s district final loss.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved