Hamilton all over Badin in softball season opener

Even with more than three decades of coaching the Hamilton High School softball team under his belt, Steve Heckman still has opening day jitters.

“I didn’t sleep,” he said. “I think we’re good. I just never know.”

The Big Blue were just fine Saturday afternoon.

Emili Schappacher smacked a two-run homer and pitched a three-hit shutout, and Alivia Rupp’s two-run shot in the fifth gave Hamilton a 10-0 run-rule victory over visiting Badin to open the season.

“I’m really happy for the girls,” Heckman said. “They’ve really kind of stepped up for us, and we don’t have a lot of experience back. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. For them to trust us, it means a lot. To see it pay off, it was a great start.”

Junior Heather Krause went 2 for 2 with a walk and scored three runs for the Big Blue, who have won three straight against the Rams.

Hamilton (1-0) tallied two runs in the first, four in the second, two in the fourth and two more in the fifth.

“It feels so good. It feels so good,” said an elated Krause. “The adrenaline was just pumping all day. We were all up and jumping and screaming everywhere. It was just crazy.”

Badin is currently without its lone senior Halle Klaiber — the reigning Greater Catholic League Coed Athlete of the Year — as she’s at the tail end of recovering from surgery after tearing the meniscus in her left knee during fall ball this past October.

“Obviously, we miss Klaiber. We need Klaiber,” Stitzel said. “That’s what I’ve told everybody at the beginning of the year. If we have Klaiber, everybody is asking me, ‘How are you going to do?’ I think we’ll do really well with Klaiber. Without Klaiber, so-so.”

The Rams are also missing junior second baseman Sydney Couch, their defensive player of the year in 2023.

Badin (0-1) started five freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors on Saturday. Freshman Phebe Kiefer pitched for the Rams.

“I’m not going to use the excuse that I started five freshmen today,” Stitzel said. “I’m not going to use that as an excuse because they’re all summer ball players.”

Stitzel said his squad had finished up two productive scrimmages against Loveland and Middletown and was hoping it would flow into the season opener.

“I thought they had some momentum going, so I thought they’d bring it into this game,” Stitzel said. “It didn’t happen. I don’t know. Youth? Get their feet wet?”

AJ Pressler, Kira Rohan and Miley Zorb collected Badin’s three hits. Kiefer struck out three in the circle.

“We’re going to grow, build from here and move on,” Stitzel said. “That’s all you can do really at this point.

“It’s going to be a learning curve. I was hoping we wouldn’t have at least gotten run-ruled today, but we’re going to continue to progress. What do you do with five freshmen in the lineup?”

Reese Thieken doubled and scored twice, while Taylor Lawson singled with a run for Hamilton.

“Great day. It feels good to be out here and get the win,” said Schappacher, who struck out seven. “End it early — especially on my arm. They were really not liking the changeups, throwing them off on the off-speed. Once we were mixing in a nice curveball on the outside, then we were throwing it on the inside. A lot of things, in and out. Changeup was really the one thing getting me the strikeouts out there.”

Heckman said he understands the blow Badin is taking without having Klaiber in the lineup.

“I know she’s the heart of that team,” Heckman said. “They came in with a little depleted roster. … We pull for anybody from Hamilton. I feel for them.”

As for the Big Blue, Krause said preparation for the 2024 season has been flawless.

“We’ve been practicing every day since before February,” Krause said. “We’ve been really putting in the work and practicing until 5 o’clock every day. We’ve been putting in the work and getting ready to be out here. It showed that we’ve been putting in the work.

“We’ve filled the spots. I don’t think we’ve got any holes. It’s just going to snowball. We’re going to keep growing and growing and growing.”


Both teams get back to action Monday. Hamilton hosts Oak Hills, and Badin welcomes Franklin.

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