This is play-up week for Beecher, sort of an annual scheduling strategy by Kevin Hayhurst to help his Bobcats prepare for the Class 2A state playoffs by facing some tough 3A and 4A teams.
In losses on Monday and Tuesday to Class 3A Oak Forest and Marian Catholic, they came a little unglued defensively.
But not on Wednesday against Class 4A Sandburg.
Three different Beecher pitchers combined with a steady surrounding cast to strand 11 Eagles baserunners. The Bobcats (20-4) also executed offensively late in the game to squeeze out a 1-0 victory.
“We’ve been waiting for this game all year,” Beecher senior Savannah Soppet said. ”This is fun. This is definitely the hardest week on our schedule. But it’s a lot of fun. It shows us the things we really need to work on for regional and sectional time.”
Soppet, the only player for either team to register two hits, drove a key single up the middle during Beecher’s game-winning strike in the top of the sixth inning. It was preceded by a bunt single by Savanah Stluka. They were on second and third with one out when Emily Landis went to the plate with a suicide bunt mission.
“I just went up there and I thought, ‘Clear mind. Keep your head in the game. Don’t think of anything else. Just ball, bat, get it down,’ ” Landis said. “It was good that I got it down.”
Sandburg pitcher Sarah Herold, who had frozen runners on plays three times earlier, got to the bunt, but her flip to the plate was a split-second late to get Stluka.
“It was kind of placed perfectly, but I think we just weren’t expecting it,” Herold said. “Because we weren’t expecting it we had a late jump. I know I did. But we almost had her.”
The Eagles (10-9), meanwhile, found nothing but frustration against the pitching trio of Mallory Ivers, Sarah Crews and Soppet.
Ivers struck out four and stranded four runners through two innings, Crews three more in the third, and Soppet four from the fifth through seventh.
“It’s nice that coach knows when to switch the pitchers up at a certain time,” Soppet said. “He always times it perfectly, every single time. It’s good that we have three good, solid pitchers who can do that.”