DYERSVILLE, Iowa — As far as local softball pitching matchups go, a dual between Dubuque Wahlert’s Anna Chapman and Dyersville Beckman’s Sydney Steffen is tough to beat.
When the two squared off on Friday night in Dyersville, Iowa, both teams knew it was going to be a grind. And in a low-scoring game against high-caliber aces, it’s the little moments that make the difference.
In the end, Golden Eagles catcher Paige Hummel said her team just “wanted it more.”
Hummel’s sacrifice RBI in the eighth inning put Wahlert in front, and Chapman pitched out of a two-out jam in the bottom half, fittingly ending the game with her 17th strikeout and lifting the Eagles to a 3-2 extra-innings win.
“Beckman’s always a tough team so I just wanted to come in, do my best, and hopefully help our team make the outs,” said Chapman, a sophomore, who finished one K short of her career high. “I really wanted that game.”
Both starters went the distance for their respective teams and the final stats showcased the quality pitching on display. Steffen took the loss, but finished with six strikeouts and three total hits and three earned runs allowed. The Beckman senior set down 14 of her first 16 batters faced, and allowed just two baserunners after a slight hiccup in the fifth inning.
On the other side, Chapman’s stuff — especially early in the game — was untouchable. After giving up a leadoff double to Heather Boeckenstedt, Chapman struck out the next eight batters she faced. The two runs the Blazers scored were both unearned, and she held Beckman two just five hits and two walks over eight frames.
“It’s a joy to coach,” said Wahlert coach Ashley Cullen. “(Chapman) just does a great job, she has great work ethic. It’s fun and I can’t ask for anything more.”
The two teams were held scoreless through four innings and Steffen looked as though she was going to work out of the fifth inning without a problem when she faced Isabelle Pfeiffer with two outs. Pfeiffer drew a walk, putting Abigail Wallace on first as a pinch runner. Kathryn Nedder followed with another walk to put runners on first and second and back-to-backs singles by Ellie Timmerman and Natalie Kelzer drove them in for a 2-0 Wahlert lead.
That score held for another inning when Chapman ran into a jam. Beckman’s Jadyn Welling led off the sixth with a single, putting Abby Knepper on first as a pinch runner. The Wahlert pitcher struck out the next two batters, but walked Kamryn Klas — who had Jami Kruse come in for her as a courtesy runner — to put two runners on with two outs. Chapman then misplayed Nell McDermott’s dribbler back to the mound, sending Knepper home, and a throw to Hummel at the plate misfired as Kruse scored to tie the game at 2-2.
Neither team could reach base in the seventh inning, forcing extras. Timmerman led off the eighth with a walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and made it to third on Kelzer’s sacrifice bunt, bringing Hummel to the plate with one out. Hummel hit a sharp grounder back up the middle to score Kelzer for what was ultimately the game-winner.
“We appreciate playing this game. This game makes us better,” said Beckman coach Ryan Meissner. “We want to win this game, but in the end, seeing a pitcher like (Chapman) right now, it makes us better in July. We want to be at our best in July and this is going to help us get there.”
In the bottom half, Welling led off with a single and moved to second on Steffen’s sac-bunt. Chapman shut the door by striking out two of the next three Blazers to wrap up the win.
Boeckenstedt and Welling led Beckman (7-3) with two hits apiece. Timmerman, Kelzer and Hummel each finished with an RBI to lead Wahlert (7-6).