Even though his Archers entered the Region XVI Tournament with a losing record and dropped their first-round game, Brad Wilson was confident.
Wilson, who just completed his first year at the helm of the St. Louis Community College softball team, believed his team was not only battle-tested, but well-equipped to peak when the schedule demanded it.
Though his team came up short in a 4-3 loss to East Central College in the region’s decisive game at the STLCC-Meramec campus on Saturday, there is plenty of evidence to suggest Wilson’s hunch was correct.
After falling to third-seeded East Central 8-5 in the first round of the tourney, the Archers battled back through the losing bracket by defeating Cottey College and top-seeded Mineral Area College. After losing four times to Mineral Area during the regular season, the Archers erupted for five first-inning runs en route to a 9-1 victory in six innings.
That set up the championship showdown with East Central, and the Archers needed to win a pair of games in order to secure a regional title. They won game one 4-3 behind sophomore pitcher Rebecca Vogt, who came on in relief to secure her second win of the tournament, and shortstop Kelsey Brodbeck, who notched a pair of hits to help key the come-from-behind win.
Vogt started the decisive title game later that afternoon, her third start and fourth appearance within a 24-hour period.
“She wanted it,” Wilson said. “We knew that was the plan we were going to go with. We were going to go with the hot pitcher, and we were going to ride the hottest pitcher we had. She wouldn’t have it any other way, and she probably pitched the best three games of her career.”
While the Archers’ comeback through the losers’ side of the bracket fell just short of a regional title, Wilson remained encouraged not only by his team’s performance, but also the character of a roster that saved its best performances of the year for the season’s final weekend.
“I think it’s self-explanatory,” Wilson said. “Sure, you’d much rather go on the winner’s side (of the bracket), but they haven’t stopped playing since 10 a.m. We were one run away from tying it and two from winning it. We were all-heart and no-quit.”