Matheis homer propels Jasper



Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper junior Megan Matheis (24) smiles as she heads home Tuesday with her teammates waiting to greet her after her two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth against Evansville Reitz. The Wildcats won, 2-1, in this Sectional 16 game at Evansville North. 


EVANSVILLE - Jasper didn't get much against Evansville Reitz senior pitcher Sydney Moskalick on Tuesday - but it got enough.

The Wildcats (23-2) are moving on in the Sectional 16 Tournament at Evansville North after outlasting the Panthers, 2-1, on Tuesday. Moskalick retired the first six Wildcats she saw, and the only thing Jasper got off of her through the first three innings was a leadoff single from junior Kennedy Matheis in the bottom of the third.

"She pitched a lot on the inside, and we kind of struggled sometimes with that, but we managed to deal with it tonight," Wildcats junior Megan Matheis said.

Megan and her Wildcat teammates made sure to deal with it in the bottom of the fourth.

Senior Kendyl Ruhe batted a ball and stumbled out of the batter's box, but it didn't hinder her because of an error from junior third baseman Carlee Effinger. This error would come back to haunt the Panthers, and Megan capitalized when she launched a one-out, two-run home run, causing the always enthusiastic Wildcats to head out of the dugout in droves, screaming in delight to greet her at home plate.

"That is one of the best feelings in softball you can actually have is whenever they're all sitting at the home plate waiting for you - because we haven't got to do that a lot since COVID and all of that," Megan said. "And it feels so great."

The single by Kennedy and the home run by Megan were the only two base knocks the Wildcats mustered all game, and senior pitcher Mia Werner had to hold the Panthers off. Werner enjoyed a 1-2-3 top of the fifth, but the Panthers had a runner in scoring position in both the top of the sixth and top of the seventh.

Reitz had runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the seventh after Werner issued her fifth and final walk to junior Alyssa Haynes. Wildcats coach Matt Pryor spoke to Werner and the Jasper infield inside the circle after that walk.

Digging into the plate would be Effinger - Werner's teammate with the Indiana Shockwaves Pirillo travel team. Pryor told Werner that her defense has her back on this, to have confidence against Effinger and to pop the ball as hard as she can throw it.

"You just to got to tell yourself to breathe and say the score is zero-to-zero, even if it's not," Werner said. "I tell myself to breathe all the time because I catch myself not breathing a lot."

"She's at a point now that it's hard for her to learn too much as far as mechanics and forms and stuff like that," Pryor said. "But we're working on her breathing, her control of the atmosphere. So, she's getting a lot better at that. She could've easily lost it right there at the end with how much emotion there was, but she kept it under control."

Werner tallied 13 strikeouts in this game, with the final one coming against her travel ball teammate to end it and send the Wildcat faithful into a frenzy.

"She's a great hitter," Werner said of Effinger. "So, I knew it was tough to come at her, but we got the job done."

The Wildcats are now two wins away from having a third consecutive sectional championship season. They won sectional titles in 2018 and 2019, and to get back to Saturday's championship game, they must first go through Evansville Central. The Wildcats topped the Bears, 10-0, on March 30.

"We got to make sure that we don't think about how we won," Megan said. "We have to make sure we go in like we have never played them, like we don't know anything about them - like everything is just, 'Go for it. Do this, do that, do the little things.'"

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