STERLING – Newman freshman Ady Waldschmidt made contact quite a bit in such a short time Thursday against Ridgewood pitcher Brooke Jackson in the second inning of a 1A regional semifinal game.
Balls hit around the left side of the backstop, however, don’t count, and Waldschmidt looped five balls in that direction during her time at the plate against Jackson. She finally got the ball smacked in the right direction, out in the gap in right-center field, to drive in a pair of Comets in a 5-2 win.
Getting the ball where it should be involved settling down a bit.
“I’m not going to lie, I was kind of freaking out there with every miss, but I just knew that we needed as many runs as we could get and I just knew I had to do something,” Waldschmidt said. “I was just believing in myself. I was pretty nervous, but I got through it.”
In a game that saw plenty of missed opportunities for both teams to drive home an ample amount of runs, Waldschmidt came through with the Comets’ second and third runs across the plate after leadoff hitter Madison Duhon doubled to drive in the game’s first run.
Both Newman (7-12) and Ridgewood (8-11) had difficulty clearing the bases for the most part; both left 12 runners on base. That created plenty of tight situations for Comet senior pitcher Jaden Morthland and Ridgewood’s trio of hurlers: Jackson, Kenzie Brown and Mya Brown. Aside from giving up a pair of runs in the sixth inning, Morthland held the Spartans off by pitching a complete game with six strikeouts.
“She did a nice job keeping them off balance,” Newman coach JD Waldschmidt said. “She deserves that first postseason start, and she delivered, got herself out of trouble and did a nice job.”
Newman left the bases loaded twice, in the first and fourth innings. Ridgewood stranded nine runners in the first four innings, eight of them in scoring position. The Spartans tried to come back in the sixth inning with three consecutive hits off Morthland, as Hallica Warren and Mya Brown came up with RBI singles in that stretch, but Alexa Yarbrough popped out to end the threat.
Newman’s other runs came on a pair of Ridgewood errors, one each in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Duhon hit a pop-up to left field that was dropped to send Kennedy Rowzee home; and in the sixth, Rowzee hit a ground ball that was midplayed at third base that sent home Morthland’s courtesy runner, Ellie Rude.
Morthland (three hits) and Ady Waldschmidt (two hits) reached base in all four plate appearances to open their postseason.
“We really needed this win to help boost our confidence,” Ady Waldschmidt said. “This is a whole new season, and we’ve forgot the whole regular season. We’re just really playing for our seniors and for the seniors last year that got their season taken away.”
Ridgewood, the cooperative of Cambridge and AlWood high schools in Henry County, came into Thursday winners of five in a row, but that streak snapped in their season finale with missed offensive opportunities and costly errors late in the game.
Warren led the Spartans offense with three hits.
“We definitely answered the call from the get-go, but we just couldn’t string any together,” Ridgewood coach Renae Tubergen said. “We had a great 5-0 winning streak coming into here, but when you get to the postseason everybody’s 0-0, and we just had a few faults offensively and defensively. I’m still very proud of the season we had through COVID.”
Newman will travel Saturday to Biggsville for a 11 a.m. regional final game against West Central, who ended Amboy’s season Thursday with a 15-0 win. Freshmen have made up the bulk of the Comets’ lineup this season, and more than half were in the lineup Thursday and figure to be in there again on Saturday.
“I told those freshmen, ‘You’re no longer freshmen anymore,’” coach Waldschmidt said. “They’ve been starters most of the year and this is the postseason, and you need to play like you belong on the varsity. We’ve had a few that have been able to do that all year long, and those are the ones that play at a high level all year.”