STERLING – You just never know how the St. Bede softball team will get you when you step on the diamond against the Bruins.
They can beat you in many ways.
Lily Bosnich and Emily Slingsby provided some timely small ball, and Reagan Stoudt added the long ball with a solo shot to send the Bruins back to the IHSA State Finals, riding Stoudt’s pitching to a 6-1 victory over Orangeville in Monday’s Class 1A Sterling Supersectional.
“Oh my gosh, it’s awesome. You always dream about it, and you don’t think it’s actually going to happen, and it’s actually happening,” Stoudt said.
“It’s just amazing. I just love my team, and I’m just glad I got to experience this with my seniors,” the freshman Bosnich said.
The Bruins (27-7) will face Goreville (25-14) in the state semifinals at 10 a.m. Friday at the Louisville Slugger Complex in Peoria. Goreville was a 5-1 winner over No. 1-ranked Casey-Westfield in the Johnston City Supersectional.
“It’s an awesome feeling, and it’s a credit to these girls. They’ve put in so much hard work,” St. Bede coach Shawn Sons said.
St. Bede placed third at state in 2019 (1A) and fourth in 2013 (2A).
Things got real exciting for the Bruins fans decked out in St. Bede green in the second inning. Bosnich laid down a sacrifice bunt after a one-out single by Tessa Dugosh that quickly turned into disaster for the Broncos.
Orangeville pitcher Leah Baker fielded the bunt but airmailed her throw past first base, rattling down into the right field corner. By the time the Broncos could get the ball home, Bosnich, a multiiple state track medalist, raced around the bases, following Dugosh home to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
“I was just thinking, ‘Run,’ ” said a still-smiling Bosnich. “I was looking at Coach seeing if I was clear to go, and I was, so I just ran. That was insane.”
Sons joked that Bosnich was getting a little upset with him with all the bunting.
“She said, ‘Coach, you’re not letting me swing,’ ” I said, ‘Well, kiddo, you’re the [sixth-]fastest kid in the state of Illinois. I’m going to take advantage of it. I’m going to let you square around and put the pressure on the defense.’ I told her once you get to first it’s like a triple, because you’re going to get to third. She said, ‘I get it.’
“We wanted to put the pressure on them right away. I wanted to fluster them a little bit. We got the two runs in the second inning. You could see right away, [Orangeville’s] body langauge, their shoulders went down right away.”
St. Bede catcher Bella Pinter, for one, simply enjoys watching Bosnich race around the bases.
“She is so fast. We like to say she’s the sixth-fastest runner in Illinois,” she said. “It’s just so fun to watch her. She’s so aggressive on the bases. She’s so smart. She has such a good knowledge of the game.
“To be playing two sports this spring is crazy, and to excel in both of them is crazy.”
Stoudt muscled up on the first pitch she saw with two outs in the third inning for a deep blast over the right-center fence to put the Bruins up 3-0.
“I knew she was hanging ‘em a little high first pitch at the top of the zone, and I just unloaded on it. It felt good,” she said.
“She is just so strong all the way around,” Pinter said. “Her and Ella Hermes come through in the most clutch moments. They just show off. Her bat is so big. She never gets too up or down. She’s just ready.”
“That’s two games our pitchers are doing it in the circle and at the plate. That’s a luxury,” Sons said, noting Hermes’ homer in Friday’s sectional championship win.
Madelyn Torrance made the Broncos pay in the fifth inning with a hit-and-run single to the right side after they intentionally walked Stoudt, scoring Hermes to make it 4-0.
In the sixth, Tessa Dugosh reached safely on an error, and Bosnich bunted her way on base again. Slingsby slapped a grounder to the shortened-up third baseman, who got the out at first. Dugosh came home from third on the throw, and Bosnich followed her from second as the Bruins scored two runs on a ball that was hit 20 feet.
Stoudt finished off what she started in the circle, allowing just one unearned run in the sixth on five hits and eight strikeouts.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment. Ella’s (Hermes) been doing really great. To get my chance, it’s awesome,” Stoudt said.
“I’ve caught Reagan since we were 9 years old. To be on this stage is just so cool. I’m just so excited for her. She threw great today,” Pinter said.
The Bruins collected nine hits, two each for Stoudt, Torrance and Abby Michaels. Sons said it was nice to see the Bruins, who were missing cleanup hitter Maddy Dalton in the lineup only able to play in the field due to an injury, have so many girls come through at the plate.
“We had players that didn’t get that many at-bats this year. Abby Michaels and Tessa Dugosh, came up huge, putting balls in play, setting the table,” he said.