CAMP POINT, Ill. — Don’t worry about Brooklynn Howell being ready to pitch come Saturday.
Fortunately, the Unity sophomore right-hander will have a couple of days to recover from what was a marvelous — albeit taxing — effort Wednesday afternoon at Central High School.
Howell pitched the seventh-seeded Unity softball team to a 4-0, 13-inning upset of second-seeded Pleasant Hill in a Class 1A Central Regional semifinal that took the better part of three hours to complete.
Unity (9-11) advances to Saturday’s 10 a.m. regional championship game against No. 5 seed Liberty (8-16), which pulled off an upset of its own when it kayoed No. 3 seed Central in Wednesday’s second game 5-4.
Unity has beaten Liberty three times this season.
Will Howell be recovered in time for the date with Liberty?
“Ohhh .. yeah,” she said. “Actually, my ankles were more sore (than her arm) after the game.”
Unity coach Dan Arnsman thought about removing Howell several times, but that proved to be a dead-end conversation.
“I considered taking her out at times, but she would have none of that,” Arnsman said. “Win, lose or draw, she was going to finish what she started. She kept telling me she felt strong.
“That was the best I’ve ever seen her throw. It’s been building … she wanted the ball.”
Howell, who had not pitched longer than seven innings before, finished with six strikeouts and allowed just one walk. She effectively scattered 10 hits to a frustrated Pleasant Hill offense.
Fatigue was never a problem, Howell insisted. She was running on pure softball adrenalin.
“I kept my mindset straight and had a lot of faith in my teammates,” she said. “We knew Pleasant Hill was a good team. They had beaten (Quincy) Notre Dame, but we were confident.”
The Mustangs finally broke through with a four-run explosion in the top of the 13th inning. Kylee Barry, Taylor Goudschaal and Ashlynn Arnsman had RBI hits in the inning. Three of the four runs scored after two were out.
Ashlyn Arnsman collected all three of her hits from the ninth inning on to pace Unity’s 10-hit attack. Annabelle Schaffnit had two hits, with Sophie Shaffer, Caroline Knox, Barry, Goudschaal and Brooklyn Stiefel all getting one apiece.
The loss was frustrating punctuation to a frustrating end of the season for Pleasant Hill (18-10), according to Wolves coach Ryan Lowe.
“I don’t know what happened to our offense the last three games of the year,” he said. “This was the third straight game we were shut out. Our girls put some good at-bats together, but …”
Pleasant Hill, which had been blanked by large-school powers Rochester (1-0) of the Central State Eight Conference and Edwardsville (4-0) of the Southwestern Conference, managed seven hits against Howell. Ava Wombles and Maddie Sidwell had two apiece, with Kali Vanstrien, McKinley Lowe and Jade Peebles getting one each.
Wombles and Lowe split the pitching duties for Pleasant Hill, combining for 23 strikeouts.
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