Providence hangs on for tough tourney title

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With two outs, a runner on first and Providence leading 2-1 over Andrew in the bottom of the seventh, the Thunderbolts had just the player they wanted up — Michigan-bound Kelly Christner.

Providence coach Jay Biesterfeld called timeout and gave senior pitcher Amanda Wilson very strict instructions: “He said, ‘keep everything off the plate and if we walk her it doesn’t matter,'” Wilson explained. “We’re going to try drops outside and a couple of changeups.”

Wilson followed those instructions to a ‘T’, running the count to 2-2. Christner fought off two high changeups, but bit on an outside drop to end the game.

The Celtics held on, 2-1, capturing the Providence Invite, which featured four ranked teams: No. 2 Providence, No. 3 Manteno, No. 6 Downers North and No. 8 Andrew.

“This was a great early-season tournament that Jay put together,” Andrew coach Jim Holba said. “We had our best up there in the right situation.”

Wilson relieved freshman pitcher Kendall Judge (2-0), who shook off a first-inning home run by Lauren Beatty, striking out seven, walking two and allowing just two more hits the rest of the way during her 4 2/3 innings.

It was just the second career start for Judge, who on Friday began her career with a 13-strikeout, shutout performance against Wheaton North.

“I was ready,” said Judge, who struck out Christner to start the game. “That gave me a lot of confidence. I knew she was a good player from my team and coaches. It made me feel good that [coach Biesterfield] trusts me. I think he was nervous at first because he wasn’t comfortable with me but I think now he’s all good.”

Wilson (2-for-3) was solid in relief, striking out three and allowing one hit in 2 1/3 innings. She also added an RBI double in the first scoring Courtney Pych (walk) to tie the game 1-1. Sarah Brightmore singled home Maeve Garvey in the third for what would prove to be the winning run against Thunderbolts pitcher Bobbi Gottschammer.

“When we decided to put this together four years ago our goal was to get together eight quality teams,” Biesterfeld said. “It was an exciting tournament for us, we had a lot of good teams here.

“We’re going to need [Judge] and what a testament to her desire to go out and play well. It was just her second game on the mound and she had to face Michigan-recruit Kelly Christner to start the game and she struck her out.”

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