When Richards’ Brianna LeBeau hit Mother McAuley pitcher Ashley Rogers in the back with a fastball in the first inning of Wednesday’s Class 4A Sandburg Sectional semifinal, she did more than put a runner on base.
She got McAuley’s Emily Powers mad.
Two innings later, Powers blasted a three-run home run to put the Mighty Macs in front 3-0.
“That was kind of payback,” a smiling Powers said. “I didn’t like that.”
When LeBeau hit Rogers with another pitch in the top of the seventh, she got Powers mad again.
Her response was another three-run blast that put the finishing touch on an 8-0 victory that lifted Mother McAuley in Saturday’s sectional final against the winner of Thursday’s semi between Sandburg and Marist.
Micaela Carney added two hits, Alex Brown a key double and Sarah West an RBI single for the Mighty Macs (25-10). Rogers, meanwhile, went the distance, scattering six hits.
Hannah Jenkins, LeBeau and Nicole Ellement each had two hits as No. 1 Richards closed at 30-5.
Powers’ blasts bookended a day of scoring that made it much easier for Rogers to operate. The senior right-hander wasn’t particularly sharp, walking five. But four of her seven strikeouts ended innings and in another she got a tap back to the circle.
“Once we started scoring we knew we could keep doing it because we were hitting (LeBeau) pretty hard all day,” Rogers said. “I just worked my corners to get ground balls. I knew my fielders would back me up.”
Richards, which had baserunners in every inning, stranded 11.
“We expected a good game from McAuley,” Richards coach Julie Folliard said. “It just wasn’t our day. We haven’t had an 8-0 game all year. We got 30 wins, had a great season. That’s how it goes.”