Softball: Prairie Ridge’s Mosolino, defense help send Wolves past Sterling

Sophomore strikes out 10 in 1-hitter

Prairie Ridge's Reese Mosolino delivers a pitch during their Class 3A sectional semifinal game against Sterling Wednesday, May 29, 2024, at Sycamore High School.

SYCAMORE – In a matchup of two ace pitchers, Wednesday’s Class 3A Sycamore Sectional semifinal came down to defense.

Prairie Ridge had the edge.

Sophomore pitcher Reese Mosolino struck out 10 Sterling batters and allowed just one hit in a 2-1 triumph to send the Wolves to Friday’s sectional final against Sycamore or Kaneland, who play on Thursday. The games were pushed back a day following inclement weather on Tuesday.

Sterling senior ace Sienna Stingley struck out eight to extend her single-season school record to 279 strikeouts, but two unearned runs were the difference in the game. Sterling’s lone run also came unearned in the first inning after a dropped ball at first base.

“We know what kind of tradition they have at that school and what kind of pitcher they had in the circle,” Prairie Ridge coach Scott Busam said. “There was no doubt that Reese was going to need to be at her best.”

The hard-throwing Mosolino delivered in the biggest game of her young career with the Wolves (25-5).

Sterling (24-6) did not have a hit after the first inning and finished the game with three walks. Prairie Ridge finished with six hits against Stingley. Mosolino retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh and finished the game with her 10th strikeout.

“She was brilliant today. When we needed big pitches, she made them,” Busam said. “She’s tough as nails. ... When she goes out there, it’s all business.”

Stingley got out of multiple jams to keep Sterling ahead. The Wolves left the bases loaded in the first inning and left two in scoring position with one out in the fourth.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Busam said of Sterling. “This was going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes, and if someone makes a mistake, we have to capitalize.”

Prairie Ridge got on the board in the fifth inning after a Parker Frey RBI single scored Emily Harlow after she reached second on a passed ball.

The Wolves scored the go-ahead run with two outs in the sixth as an Ady Kiddy flyball was dropped in center by Olivia Melcher.

“That’s not an easy play with the wind blowing in,” Sterling coach Donnie Dittmar said, ”and the center fielder running 50 yards to come catch it.”

It was a tough break, and Mosolino made it even tougher on the Golden Warriors.

“She probably threw as hard as we’ve seen from anybody this year,” Dittmar said. “It’s a little hard catching up with that timing and stuff like that, but they pitched smart and they did a nice job.”

Mosolino was confident in her defense when Sterling did put the ball in play.

“I knew my team had my back behind me,” she said. “It was really good knowing that I helped my team move on to the next part.”

Busam said Mosolino plays above her age.

“She’s a 15-year-old high school girl and it’s easy to forget that sometimes with the type of athlete she is and the type of pitcher she is,” Busam said. “We love her to death. She’s got a big personality. She’s sort of a quiet, calming presence among the team.”

Mosolino

For Sterling, the team can hang its hat on winning a 12th straight regional title and a Western Big 6 Conference crown.

“This season has been amazing,” said Stingley, a Rock Valley College commit. “Playing with these girls has been such a privilege. Breaking a record with them is such a privilege, especially with Marley (Sechrest), my catcher, she’s caught every single strikeout. That’s amazing.”

Sterling's Sienna Stingley delivers a pitch during their Class 3A sectional semifinal against Prairie Ridge Wednesday, May 29, 2024, at Sycamore High School.

Stingley’s message to the younger players is to have confidence in themselves.

“Always be your biggest fan no matter what and be your biggest advocate,” she said. “Even when no one else believes in you, you can.”

Despite the ending, Sterling had a season to remember.

“It’s a season they should be proud of and I’m proud of the girls,” Dittmar said. “I’m proud of the girls and they should not hang their heads at all. They should be really proud of what they did this year.”

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Drake Lansman

Drake Lansman

Drake has been a sports reporter with Sauk Valley Media/Shaw Local since May of 2024. He is a Bettendorf native who graduated from Iowa State University. Drake previously covered sports in the Quad Cities area for nine years.