MARION – Gabby Tath stepped off the pitcher’s mound and took a deep breath. The bases were loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, and her Dubuque Wahlert softball team was up by a single run. Talk about a tough spot for a freshman.
“I was so nervous, I didn’t want to let my teammates down,” Tath said.
The nerves quickly left Tath after she struck out Marion’s Michalyn Mohr, giving the Golden Eagles (16-24) a 3-2 upset win over the Indians (24-16) in a regional quarterfinal matchup at Marion Thursday night.
“I was so relieved when she swung and missed,” Tath said.
Tath pitched the entire game for the Golden Eagles, giving up seven hits and striking out four Indians. It was her ability to step up with the game on the line though that impressed her coach.
“That was a pretty gutsy performance,” Wahlert coach Jim Noonan said. “As a freshman in this kind of heat, I was really impressed with her.”
Wahlert opened the game with a pair of quick runs on three straight singles. Marion then responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the first inning, cutting the lead to 2-1.
A pitcher’s duel ensued after the first inning. Indian reliever Amber Fiser matched Tath pitch for pitch after Marion starter Mikayla Goemaat left the game in the second inning.
The Indians’ eighth grader didn’t surrender a run for four innings, striking out 10 batters in the game. However, in the seventh inning she walked the first two Wahlert batters, and gave up a run on a throwing error to home plate.
Marion entered the last inning trailing 3-1. Eighth grader Mahlia Brown doubled to start the inning and scored on a throwing error by the Golden Eagle third baseman.
The next batter attempted a suicide squeeze that didn’t score a run but loaded the bases for Mohr. Tath then took care of business for the Golden Eagles.
“Softball is a game of execution and we didn’t execute,” Marion coach Kim Knapp said.
Wahlert takes on Cedar Rapids Xavier on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Xavier. The Saints received a first round bye in the region.