OTTAWA - The key for any starting pitcher who gives up an early run is to hold things steady until the bats get going.
That was the case for St. Bede Academy junior hurler Payge Pyszka during Wednesday afternoon’s game against Marquette Academy here at June Gross Field.
Pyszka allowed a first-inning tally to the host Crusaders but then retired the next 13 batters and allowed just four baserunners over the final six innings. Meanwhile, the Bruins offense tied the game in the fourth, then scored three times off MA sophomore starter and losing pitcher Kaylee Killelea and three more in the sixth off sophomore reliever Lindsey Kaufmann to eventually post a 7-1 victory to improve to 3-3 on the season.
“I knew I needed to stay positive, and I trusted my teammates to score some runs. To be honest, I really didn’t change too much after the first inning other than working the ball more to the outside of the plate, because their hitters seemed to really be looking for pitches inside.”
— St. Bede junior pitcher Payge Pyszka
“When I give up an early run like I did today, I just keep reminding myself that we have plenty of time in the game to come back,” said Pyszka, who gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out 10. “I knew I needed to stay positive, and I trusted my teammates to score some runs.
“To be honest, I really didn’t change too much after the first inning other than working the ball more to the outside of the plate, because their hitters seemed to really be looking for pitches inside.”
“She has thrown the ball well for us all season, and she gets the tough games,” said St. Bede coach Rob Ruppert. “Today she did a tremendous job of hitting her spots, moving the ball around and using all of her pitches. She has a lot of movement on her pitches, and after the first inning where they had a couple solid hits, she really didn’t allow any more solid contact.”
Marquette, which fell to 1-1 on the year, jumped to the aforementioned 1-0 lead in the opening inning when leadoff hitter Kaufmann one-hopped the left-center fence for a double and scored an out later on Killelea’s solid base hit to center.
The visitors tied the game in the fourth when Addie Bontz reached third on an outfield error and scored on a single by Claire Morrow.
“We talked about making adjustments at the plate after going through the lineup one time. (Killelea) was living on the outside corner the first three innings, so we said let’s move up on the plate and look to get our arms out and drive the ball,” said Ruppert. “We took advantage of an error and a few walks in the fourth and fifth, and then really hit the ball well in the sixth.
“We always talk about doing the little things better, and I thought we did a great job of that today. This was a pretty solid all-around win for us.”
St. Bede took the lead for good in the fifth, with Addie Lee smacking a double to the fence in left, moving to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Madelyn Torrence. The Bruins then drew four consecutive bases on balls, with Bontz scoring on a wild pitch and Morrow on the back end of a double steal to make it 4-1.
Then in the sixth, Lee hit the ball to almost the exact same spot in left as her first double and scored on Torrence’s long home run down the left-field line. Bontz hit the very next pitch over the fence in right-center to make it 7-1.
Killelea, who retired the first nine batters of the game — seven via strikeout — finished giving up just two hits in 4 2/3, three earned runs, five walks and 11 strikeouts; while Kaufmann allowed three hits in 2 1/3, three earned runs and two strikeouts.
“I think to be honest, Kaylee just got a little tired. She threw 105 pitches, and this was only her second varsity start,” said Marquette coach Brad Oakes.
“We have to get way better at putting the ball in play, whether hitting the ball or bunting the ball. We got such a late start with practices, had some girls in quarantine, and still have some out right now. Today kind of showed we had only played one game so far the season. We have had to switch a lot of things around, but today the girls didn’t quit, kept battling, and I expect we’ll come out and play an all-around better game (Thursday).”
Both teams are back in action Thursday with 4:30 p.m. starts — St. Bede hosting Sterling Newman, and Marquette entertaining Plano.
I worked for 25 years as a CNC operator and in 2005 answered an ad in The Times for a freelance sports writer position. I became a full-time sports writer/columnist for The Times in February of 2016.
I enjoy researching high school athletics history, and in my spare time like to do the same, but also play video games and watch Twitch.