Tori Kniesche pieced together one of the most dominant outings in state softball tournament history and needed every bit to edge Wahoo Neumann 3-2 and lead Wayne to a perfect season and a Class C title.
Kniesche struck out 20 batters — the lone in-play out a grounder to second base — as Wayne capped the 35-0 season. It was the second unblemished Class C mark. The other was Wayne going 34-0 in 2004.
“She wanted it,” Wayne coach Rob Sweetland said. “It was a big zone, and she used it.
“This was a lot of pressure on these kids. You know you’re going to get everybody’s best shot. As far as what they just did, it probably doesn’t sink in until they are a little older.”
“To be able to do it(go unbeaten) twice, you have to have a couple of things. First of all, you need a great pitcher, which we’ve had twice. Secondly, you need to have a big senior class, which we’ve had both times. Seniors who have been through the grind.”
Kniesche (30-0) finished the tournament with 67 strikeouts, including the first nine batters to start the title game. Neumann’s Maggie Vasa snapped the streak with a leadoff single to right in the fourth inning.
“That’s just incredible. I did not know that,” Kniesche said. “First time we played them at state (a 2-1 Wayne win), I pitched inside. This time I nailed the outside corner.”
As the game wore on, Kniesche and Neumann’s starter Hadley Chvatal continued to pick apart batters. Chvatal surrendered just two earned runs on four hits while striking out seven.
Wayne broke through first in the top of the fourth when Sidney Biggerstaff slammed a two-out triple off the right field fence to score Aliah Schulz, who. Schulz was running for Kniesche, who had walked.
The top-ranked Blue Devils extended their edgelead to 3-0, adding two in the seventh. Biggerstaff, who doubled to lead off the inning, scored on Abby Ankeny’s single. Ankeny later scored on an error.
The extraThat insurance run came back to haunt Neumann as it finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh. Mary Chvatal, hit a wind-aided, bloop double behind first base and came home on Taylor Stuhr’s bombhome run to right to cut the lead to one. It was only the second homer surrendered by Kniesche this season.
“We couldn’t get an approach going because we didn’t know what was going to happen pitch to pitch,” said Neumann coach David Brabec, whose team lost 2-1 to Kniesche on Thursday. “But at the same time, if we make a couple of plays in the seventh inning, we win that game on a walk-off.”
Wayne (35-0)…………………….000 100 2—3 4 0
Wahoo Neumann (27-10)…….000 000 2—2 3 2
W: Tori Kniesche. L: Hadley Chvatal 2B: W, Biggerstaff. 3B: Biggerstaff. HR: WN, Stuhr.