GRIFFITH | After Meghan Bridgeman drove Kaitlin Barajas home in the sixth inning, Andrean coach Henry Ryan thought his team was in good shape against against Calumet in the opening round of the Griffith Sectional.
"I felt very confident with that one (run)," Ryan said.
Ryan's confidence lay in his starting pitcher Nicole Steinbach, who struck out 11 consecutive batters at one point in the game. Ryan referred to Steinbach as "Mariano Rivera," the great New York Yankees closer who rarely blows leads in late innings.
Sure enough, Steinbach held true, recording two more strikeouts in the final two innings to secure the 59ers' 1-0 win.
"We needed Nicki (Steinbach)," Bridgeman said.
The 59ers also needed Bridgeman. Going into the sixth inning, neither team had scored a run, but Andrean had the heart of its order due up.
"My whole key there was (to) get someone on," Ryan said.
Catcher Kelly Ryan, Henry's daughter, hit a one-out double, giving Andrean the baserunner it needed.
"When Kelly came up with that big double, it was like, ‘There it is,'" Henry Ryan said.
His daughter was eventually forced out on a fielder's choice, but Barajas walked and advanced to second ahead of Bridgeman, who had been called out on strikes in the fourth inning after fouling off a number of pitches.
"Hitting all those foul balls pumped me up," Bridgeman said. "I needed to come through (next time)."
She did, as her hit to right-center chased in Barajas.
Andrean will play Griffith -- which beat Knox 3-1 in the second sectional game -- on Thursday.
The Panthers' sectional victory was their first of the Ed McLeod era, who is in his third year with the team.
"I really want to do something positive for them," McLeod said. "It's good for the girls. We've got positive vibes now."
On the mound, Alex Latronica led the Panthers, surrendering just five hits.
Two of Griffith's three runs came off of errors committed by Knox. The Redskins made five errors on the day.
"We didn't hit very good this year, so these are the type of things we have to take advantage of," McLeod said.