MERRILLVILLE | What happened was expected. When two dominating pitchers are sharing the circle, one thing is certain.
The outfielders didn't need to take their gloves onto the field, just a lawn chair.
Andrean's Nikki Steinbach and Bishop Noll's Vanessa Hartzell went face-to-face on Thursday and the ball got out of the infield sparingly. Very sparingly.
Times No. 2 Andrean won 3-0 as Steinbach whiffed 16 Warriors (18-8) and only allowed two hits. Andrean (20-2) only got three hits but did put the ball in play enough to put pressure on Noll's defense.
"Vanessa is a very good pitcher," Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon said. "So we had to adjust as the game went on."
The pitcher praise continued on the other side of the diamond. Noll coach Ralph Laramie spoke very highly of Steinbach, too.
"She's a great pitcher," Laramie said. "We gave them three unearned runs. I'm very satisfied with the way our kids played. This is a great game heading into sectionals (next week).
"We battled with them and made a couple of mistakes. But those are correctable mistakes."
Andrean's Cat Murad scored in the second after two errors got her to third. A wild pitch allowed her to score and give the hosts an early lead.
Noll had three errors in the fifth. Hannah Kulesa and Maddi Lesch opened up with singles. But a throw from right field allowed Kulesa to score. Hartzell got two infield pop ups, but an infield error allowed Lesch to score.
"This game was pretty big because they are our big rival," said Steinbach, who raised her record to 19-1. "We want this game pretty bad. This gives us momentum going into next week. The way we played today will help us down the road."
Noll will host the 2A sectional while Andrean will travel to Kankakee Valley for the 3A sectional.
"What really impressed me with Nikki is she got stronger as the game went on," Baker-Runyon said. "I knew she dug deep at the end of the game. She was awesome."
The Ball State-bound ace struck out the side on four different occasions.