CLARKSVILLE — Coaches always say it’s hard to defeat an opponent three times in one season.
Clarksville was up to the challenge Monday as the Indians battled their way into the Class 1A state tournament with a 4-2 win over rival North Butler in the regional finals.
While sixth-ranked Clarksville (27-2) also won the previous two matchups with the 13th-ranked Bearcats (3-0 and 2-0), Monday’s victory was a special accomplishment during what has been a special season.
“It is all pretty shocking right now,” freshman pitcher Kori Wedeking said. “It just hasn’t sunk in yet. Since the beginning of the season, we just were not sure what type of team we had because we are so young. It is amazing how far we have come through the whole year and I just cannot believe it right now. It is truly amazing.”
The game followed the script of the first two meetings as pitchers Wedeking and Taylor Graven of North Butler dueled.
The Indians struck first on Emma Poppe’s bunt with runners at second and third. An errant throw over the first baseman’s head allowed Makayla Holub and Chloe Ross to race home. Poppe then scored on Cheyenne Behrends’ single for a 3-0 advantage.
Ross tacked on a big RBI in the third frame as the host Indians built a 4-0 lead.
“We really did not want to have to play these guys again,” Clarksville coach Katie Wedeking said. “We played them twice already and knew how to pitch to them, and Kori did a good job and stayed very calm. Even when it got a little nerve racking in the fourth and final innings.”
North Butler scored twice in the fourth. Nicole Heeren singled and Makayla Hauser walked. Alex Sterling then roped a shot to the outfield that got away and allowed both runners to score.
“I did get a little worried there,” Kori Wedeking said. “We have a great defense and we just needed to forget what just happened and concentrate on our game.”
Wedeking put down nine straight batters after that inning leading up to the final out.
A walk and a single with two outs in the seventh gave the Bearcats hope, but the Indians’ defense gunned down a runner at second to end the game.
“We knew they would come at us hard in this one,” Behrends said. “I think the rally got into our heads a little bit and when the ball started getting thrown around, I was getting nervous.
“I saw the runner heading toward second after the girl was called safe at third and our left fielder (Makayla Holub) was in to make the play. I just yelled, ‘Two, two, throw to second’ and she made a nice throw for the out. It feels so good to win this one and go to state.”
“Our age doesn’t show at all on this team,” said Kate Wedeking, who has just two seniors and one junior. “They just always seem to keep their composure.”
Clarksville 4, North Butler 2
North Butler 000 200 0 — 2 3 2
Clarksville 031 000 x — 4 5 1
Graven and Heeren. Wedeking and Negen.