WHEATFIELD | Andrean and star pitcher Nicole Steinbach were still riding the wave of momentum of Friday's perfect game win at LaPorte.
Steinbach and The Times No. 3 Andrean blanked No. 5 Kankakee Valley 3-0 behind a one-hit, 15-strikeout performance Tuesday in a Northwest Crossroads Conference battle.
With the win, the 59ers are guaranteed at least a share of the NCC title.
"I was worried about coming down here and playing them because they always play us tough," said 59ers assistant coach Fred Steinbach, who was subbing for head coach Brooke Baker-Runyon.
The Niners (14-1, 8-1) gave Nicole Steinbach all the runs she would need in the first inning when Savannah Kinsella and Morghyn Neal belted doubles to plate a run. Steinbach helped her own cause with a run-scoring single for a 2-0 cushion.
"They came out with a lot of enthusiasm, and the biggest part of the game was the two runs in the first inning," coach Steinbach said. "It gave them the confidence to finish the game off."
Nicole Steinbach did the rest, retiring the first 13 batters she faced before opposing pitcher Ashley Dobson singled up the middle in the fifth inning.
"They're good competition," Nicole Steinbach said of the Kougars. "They're one of the best teams in our conference."
The Kougars (11-4, 7-3) threatened in the seventh when Steinbach's uncharacteristic wildness led to two walks with one out. She settled down, getting the final two outs to seal the win.
"I usually don't do that," she said. "I usually try to get ahead."
Steinbach had all her pitches working, including a variety of speeds on her changeup.
"She's a great pitcher," K.V. coach Brian Flynn said. "You just can't have that many Ks in a ballgame. You have to put the ball in play and make the defense work."
After the shaky first inning, Dobson settled down -- allowing just a manufactured run in the fifth.
"The difference was they put the ball in play, and we didn't," Flynn said. "That's what it pretty much comes down to. They're a good team and deserve to be in first place in our conference because they're tough."
The two teams could face each other again later this month in the sectional.
"We want to carry this momentum into sectionals and to regionals," Nicole Steinbach said. "Because the big picture is after the (regular) season."