Mendota catcher Mary Wackerlin had one thought when she stepped to the plate Wednesday with one out and a runner on base in the bottom of the 10th inning.
“Honestly, I just wanted to get the game over with,” Wackerlin said. “I felt like I could do it. I just did what I usually do. I was relaxed.”
She did do it.
Wackerlin smacked a single up the middle to score Ashlyn Kennedy from second base to lift the No. 2-seeded Lady Trojans to a 5-4 victory over No. 3 Princeton in a Class 2A St. Bede Regional semifinal in Peru.
“It was a struggle,” Wackerlin said. “It was a long game, but it felt good at the end to get the win.”
The extra inning victory sends Mendota (11-12) into Saturday’s 11 a.m. championship game against No. 1 St. Bede.
“Lainie (Schweickert) is one heck of a pitcher,” Mendota coach Joel Perez said. “In my opinion, she’s one of the best pitchers around the area, if not the best. She has a nice rise ball, fastball and changeup. She’s going to keep us on our toes.
“They’re a solid team. We’ve faced them the last couple years in the regional and (Schweickert’s) tough. We have to bring our ‘A’ game. Hopefully, we’ll get some runs on her and see what happens. You never know.”
The Lady Trojans almost didn’t get their chance against Schweickert and the Lady Bruins after falling behind 3-0 Wednesday.
Mendota had no hits through five innings by Princeton freshman Madison Menzel, but the Lady Trojans got their offense going in the sixth.
Mendota loaded the bases with two walks and a fielder’s choice before center fielder Brooke Carroll delivered a two-run double to right field.
Kennedy followed with an RBI groundout, and Carroll scored when an attempted pick-off throw at third got away, allowing her to race home for a 4-3 MHS lead.
“We were being aggressive,” Perez said. “We had a (fielder’s choice) and a couple walks to start the inning and we got them around. Hitting is contagious. You get people on base and people start believing, and that’s kind of what happened. It just kind of clicked for us when we needed it.”
Princeton scored on an RBI double by Katherine Pranka in the top of the seventh to force extra innings.
From there, each team had several scoring chances.
Princeton loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and stranded one runner in the 10th, while Mendota left the bases loaded in the eighth and stranded a pair of runners in the ninth before Wackerlin’s hit in the 10.
“She hit the ball the first time up, but then she wasn’t getting her hands extended there,” Perez said. “She finally got her hands extended, hit the ball hard to deep center and they couldn’t get it home in time. She was patient, did what she was supposed to do, extended her arms and drove the ball. I’m glad she did.”
Kennedy earned the win for Mendota. She allowed four runs - three earned - on 13 hits with nine strikeouts and one hit batter. Kennedy also went 1-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
Carroll went 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a run, while Haley Walters walked three times and scored a run.
Menzel took the loss for Princeton (10-9) as she allowed five runs - four earned - on five hits with eight strikeouts and five walks.
Abby Jaques went 3-for-5 with a solo home run, two RBIs and two runs.
“I was proud of the kids that they hung in and kept battling. They never gave up,” PHS coach Bob James said. “We got the lead early, had a bad inning where we kind of gave some things away - a lead-off walk and an error, you try to get out of that and it makes it tough.
“The fact that they kept battling and worked hard all the way through, I’m proud of the kids for that.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.