EDWARDSVILLE – Sydney Baalman struck out 12 and held Edwardsville to two hits, while Hardin Calhoun got timely hits in the first, second and fifth innings at the Warriors defeated the Tigers 3-1 in a hard-fought softball game Monday afternoon at the Edwardsville Sports Complex.

Baalman had at least one strikeout in every inning and fanned the side in the second inning in recording the complete game win.

The Tigers battled throughout the game, and had opportunities, but couldn’t get the key hits to drive in the runs.

“We had opportunities, but she (Baalman) throws the ball really well, and they’re a good program," Edwardsville head coach Lori Blade said. "But we competed throughout and had the opportunities, just couldn’t come up with the hit when we had kids on. And that’s how this game goes.”

Lauren Dial and Ryleigh Owens pitched very well in relief of starter Kay Swanson, with Dial coming in in the second and allowing only one run on three hits while striking out four. Owens came on in the fifth and gave up only one walk while fanning three.

“Dial threw a couple of very good innings, she’s just got to pitch from the head,” Blade said. “She got behind a lot on some batters, and then Ryleigh came in and did a nice job for her two-plus innings.”

Dial did pitch well and held the Warriors off the board until the fifth.

“Yeah, she gave us some good innings for sure,” Blade said.

Calhoun got single runs in the first, second and fifth innings, and the offense executed their at-bats well.

“We try to work it one run at a time,” said Warriors coach Duane Sievers. “Get a runner on, move them over and try to get that big hit, and we executed really well today. And that’s the key for us. We’re not going to go in there and slug the ball against a good team like this. They’re going to play defense, they’re going to catch the ball. So we’ve got to take advantage of our base hits, moving runners over, and rely on that big hit.”

Calhoun was able to get hits up-and-down their lineup, which was a key to the win.

“We’ve got balance up and down,” Sievers said. “That’s been one of our problems in the past, we go one-through-six, we’re pretty good, then we’re kind of weak at the bottom. But this lineup is solid up and down, and a matter of fact, I think our lower end probably did more damage today than the upper, and again, it’s a good team effort, and I’m very pleased.”

Sievers didn’t see the win as a smaller school winning over a larger school, but a win against a very good program in Edwardsville.

“It’s not just a (Class) 4A school,” Sievers said, “it’s just a very good program, that they play excellent ball. They’re not going to make many mistakes, they’re going to be very athletic. And we held our own. You know, just having a good ball game is our goal against this team.”

It was very much a hard-fought game to the end, where both teams played hard to the end.

“Well, there’s two good ball clubs, and neither one wants to give an inch,” Sievers said. “And we’re in the stretch run of the season, so it’s time to buck up and play ball. And I think both teams responded really well today, and one of them had to come out on top, and it had to be us today.”

And as the stretch run of the season is about to take place, Sievers likes his team’s chances of having success in the post-season.

“You know, we’re good,” Sievers said. “We’ve got good pitching, we’ve got Carrollton tomorrow, so that’s the only game I’m focused on, and we’ll see how we handle that. We’ll finish up our conference this week, and we’ll just try to make ourselves as good as possible for the post-season.”

The Warriors jumped out on top in the very first inning, starting with a leadoff single by Sophie Lorton, who was sacrificed to second by Baalman. Lucy Kallal doubled home Lorton with the first run of the game to make it 1-0. Calhoun doubled its advantage in the second inning, starting with a walk to Ella Sievers, who stole second, with Elly Pohlman drawing a walk. Sievers went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a squeeze bunt by Mackenzie Cranmer, who was thrown out at first, but the Warriors took a 2-0 lead. After Autumn Brannan walked, Dial was brought in to pitch, and immediately struck out Lorton and got Baalman to ground out to the shortstop to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Baalman started out well, allowing only a first-inning single by Moe Kastens while striking out five of the first seven batters she faced. In the third, the Tigers pulled a run back, starting with a walk to Ellie Viox and a single by Jayna Connoyer, with Viox taking third. One out later, a walk to pinch hitter Maci Bohannon loaded the bases, and Kastens was hit by a pitch to force home a run, making it 2-1. Baalman then got Lexi Gorniak to pop to short and struck out Swanson to end the inning.

Dial pitched a good third and fourth innings, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but ran into trouble in the fifth. With two out, Ashleigh Presley doubled down the left field line, then scored on a double by Sievers that dropped just inside the right-field line make it 3-1. Pohlman then drew a walk to bring in Owens to pitch, and Owens then walked Cranmer, but on the same play, Kastens picked off Sievers at third when she strayed too far off the bag to end the inning.

Edwardsville had a pair of chances in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Mackenzie Owens walked and was sacrificed to second, but Baalman struck out the next two batters to end the inning, and then in the fifth, Maria Smith drew a walk to lead off, and stole second, but Ryleigh Owens struck out, Kastens flew to center, where Pohlman made a nice diving catch, and Gorniak grounded to third to end the fifth. Both sides were retired in order in the sixth and seventh, as Calhoun went on to its 3-1 win.

The Warriors are now 16-3 on the season and face Carrollton on Tuesday, then host Jersey on Friday in a 4:30 p.m. start. Sievers enjoys playing against Edwardsville and always looks forward to visiting the Edwardsville facility.

“I enjoy coming down here, this is a nice venue to play,” Sievers said, “I’m glad Edwardsville keeps up on our schedule, and I look forward to coming back down here in two more years.”

The Tigers drop to 13-3, and face a big Southwestern Conference test at Collinsville on Tuesday, then host Columbia on Wednesday. Game times for both will be 4:30 p.m. Edwardsville is coming down to their stretch run as well, but first things first, and Blade is looking forward to the upcoming week.

“We’ll see,” Blade said. “This was a tough one, and we’ve given up the three runs defensively; we have to do our job. But we had a good week last week, and we’ve got a tough week this week. We’ll have to turn around and be ready for Collinsville tomorrow.”

And of course, the Southwestern Conference is always a tough game, and with the Tigers hosting Columbia Wednesday, Blade knows that the competition will be keen.

“We’ve got Collinsville Tuesday then Columbia on Wednesday, so it’s a stacked week for us, that’s for sure,” Blade said.

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story

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