CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Devin Pieper didn't know it until afterward, but the T.F. South softball hurler was the wily veteran in her pitching matchup Monday with Bloom's Katie Frederick.
Both are freshmen, but Pieper was making her eighth start, Frederick her first. Pieper emerged with the win as the Rebels captured a 9-7 seesaw affair.
"I thought they both did remarkable," T.F. South coach Jamie Arundel said. "It's a lot for a freshman to take on, pitching on the varsity."
Pieper settled in after allowing six hits through three innings, giving up just three more the rest of the way. She gave up six earned runs while striking out six and walking three.
"I felt pretty comfortable," she said. "My pitches were working for the most part."
Pieper (3-5) used most of her repertoire of five pitches — fastball, drop, screwball, rise and changeup — while Frederick (0-1) was a bit more reliant on her fastball.
Frederick allowed 10 hits and six earned runs over six innings while striking out seven and walking seven.
T.F. South (3-5) was the home team though the game, switched from Lansing because of poor field conditions, was played at Bloom (3-3).
"I thought (Frederick) did really well for her first varsity start," Bloom coach Carrie Twietmeyer said. "We need to work on her walks and her 0-2 pitch a bit. ... You can't throw three strikes down the middle on varsity."
Frederick helped the Blazing Trojans jump to the early lead, lining a one-hopper off the fence in center for a double and scoring in a three-run second. Jenna Amazzalorso and Stephanie Ruiz each singled and scored ahead of Frederick.
Ruiz's luck changed in the bottom of the inning. Leadoff batter Justine Flores lined one at the right fielder, who lost the ball in the sun and took it off the forehead. Ruiz left the game and later received nine stitches just above her left eye, while Flores went to third on the play and scored on Marcy Evans' ensuing ground out.
South went ahead with three runs in the third as Ashtyn Kapovich and Brianna Heintz each had RBI singles, only to see Bloom answer in the top of the fourth with three runs on four straight singles and an error.
The Rebels took the lead for good in the bottom of the frame, Kapovich (2-for-3, 3 RBI, 2 runs) and Daviea Cowens highlighting a three-run spurt with RBI singles. They added two more in the fifth, Heintz and Tiambris Tate each singling and scoring.
Amazzalorso doubled to lead off the top of the seventh and scored on a ground out, but with three straight batters coming to the plate representing the tying run, Pieper got a strikeout, a tapper back to the mound and an easy fly to left to secure the win.
"One of Devin's strongest qualities right now is her ability to stay calm," Arundel said. "As a freshman, you hear they kind of buckle. ... She zones right in."