When the streak became history, even Badin High School softball coach Greg Stitzel was surprised by its length.
His Rams had won 38 straight Greater Catholic League contests before McNicholas came to town Wednesday and ended that dominance with a 3-0 victory at Mueller Stadium.
“Wow, I didn’t know it was that long,” Stitzel said after Badin slipped to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in the GCL Coed Central Division. “You’ve got to give McNick credit. They played defense and hit the ball, and their pitcher threw a nice game. We couldn’t figure this girl out today.”
Freshman Haven Dwyer tossed a two-hitter with five strikeouts for the Rockets (8-2, 6-0), who halted a 14-game losing streak against the Rams.
McNick’s last win in the series was a 1-0 decision on May 4, 2010. The Rockets swept Badin that year and won the GGCL Grey Central title — the Rams have captured every division crown since.
“It’s a huge day,” McNick coach Terry Doyle said. “I’ve been associated with this program for 25 straight years, and I don’t remember how long it’s been since we beat them. They’re always good. They’re always a challenge.”
They’ll square off again Friday on the Rockets’ field, and Stitzel said it’s clearly a must-win game for Badin.
Did Wednesday’s outcome signal a changing of the guard in the Central?
“I would hope so, but we’ll see what happens,” said Doyle, who doesn’t have a senior on his roster. “This area has such great feeder programs, so every year Badin loads up again, and Greg’s a great coach. You never count them out.”
Three BHS players reached base against Dwyer, a right-hander.
Maddie Curtner walked in the first inning, Emma Kent had an infield single in the second and Sydney Rawlings singled in the sixth. The hosts spent most of the day making less-than-solid contact and routine outs.
“We knew they had this new freshman pitcher,” Stitzel said. “She had us off balance with her changeup.”
Dwyer didn’t look like a ninth-grader in the circle. She seemed to be in control from the beginning.
“I was just doing my thing,” Dwyer said. “I’ve played up my whole life, so this isn’t a big change for me. I’ve been playing 16U for a year now.
“I was really focusing on hitting my spots and getting easy outs in the field like pop-ups and ground outs. Everything was right to my teammates and they made great plays … I trust them. I was tryimg to throw low because that’s where the umpire’s strike zone was. My changeups were working, so I stuck with that.”
Said Doyle, “She may be a freshman, but she keeps pretty well grounded because she has relatives at McNick, so she knows the importance of the game. She probably plays 90 games a year. She went to California for nationals this year, and she was in Florida the year before that.”
The Rockets were on the verge of breaking Wednesday’s game open several times, yet stranded 11 runners. Lillie Zimmerman had two hits and an RBI, Madisen Imbus contributed two hits, and Hope Bridgers plated a run against Badin ace Nicole Rawlings.
Rawlings struck out seven and walked two in her seven-hitter. The Rams committed six errors.
“We probably should’ve scored at least eight runs today. We gave up a lot of opportunities,” Doyle said. “I think we took Badin out of their game. We bunted a lot more, and I don’t know if they fielded as well as they usually do. I think that flustered them a little bit. That’s why we kept bunting.”
Stitzel said defense has been a problem in all three of Badin’s losses this year. The Rams also fell to Clinton-Massie and Ross, who happen to be in their Division II sectional.
“They’ve got to get themselves back together on the defensive end,” Stitzel said. “When they play defense, they’re pretty good. They just don’t have that killer instinct like we’ve had in the past. Not yet anyway.”
Badin is starting three freshmen — first baseman Kent, catcher Caitlin Smith and left fielder Brooke Giuliano. McNick is starting two frosh, Dwyer and shortstop/leadoff hitter Jasmine Elam.
The Rockets will travel to Highlands (Ky.) on Thursday.
WP — Haven Dwyer (5-1); LP — Nicole Rawlings (5-3). Records: M 8-2, 6-0 GCLC Central; B 9-3. 5-1 GCLC Central