Indians hang on, win district title
By MICKEY ALVARADO
It was survival of the fittest during the Division 2 District games in Chelsea on Saturday, May 30, with both Onsted and Chelsea making Tecumseh prove they were worthy of claiming this year's title.
The Indians did hang on to pick up yet another district championship but not without biting their nails in both contests. Tecumseh won the semifinal by edging out the Wildcats 1-0 and despite finishing the title final with a 6-1 victory, Tecumseh was toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs until finally busting things wide open in the sixth inning.
The biggest workhorse for the Indians came in the form of a small-framed junior pitcher, Catie Kaliszuk, who threw in every inning of both games. Without her determination when facing trouble in the circle, the Indians could have easily fell completely apart and lost a game to end their season.
“I definitely feel like we survived,” said Tecumseh coach Kristalyn Smith. “We had great pitching, and that's absolutely what kept us in both games.”
Kaliszuk's skills were put to the test several times in the semifinal with Onsted putting runners on the bases in every inning but the seventh. The Wildcats had possibly their best opportunity to score in the fifth inning after loading the bases and having their cleanup hitter at the plate with two outs. However, Onsted's runner at first base took one step too many off the bag and was picked off by senior Maddi Benedict to end the threat.
“It was exciting,” said Kaliszuk, “I think that's what kept me in it, all the excitement. Our team was really pumped.”
Tecumseh scored the only run of the game in the second inning on a close play at home plate. With two outs already recorded, Gabby Nowak was hit by a pitch and Megan Oberst was walked to first to follow. Katelyn Dykas then hit a single that turned to a RBI double when Onsted chose to throw the ball to home plate to keep Nowak from crossing, but was just a little too late.
Bailey Brooks and Melissa Felkey also added hits for the Indians.
Chelsea held a 1-0 lead in the championship final until the fourth inning. Chelsea Hutchinson doubled in the top of the inning and Bailey Brooks laid down a nice bunt that forced a hurried throw to first. The throw was off and the Indians scored the game-tying run.
With the contest tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Hutchinson advanced to first base for Tecumseh with a walk and after recording an out had Benedict get on base with a single. Melissa Felkey then blasted a ball to the fence to send in the two base runners to open the scoring floodgates. Tecumseh's Kaitlyn Kenyon increased the Indians lead to 4-1 with an RBI single with two outs recorded but Nowak outdid that by hitting her first home run of the season. Then it was all up to Kaliszuk to secure the win.
Kaliszuk (16-3) went the distance and gave up just one unearned run on seven hits while walking none and striking out six.
“Coach and I have been working on making my pitch good before I throw it, staying relaxed and trusting my pitches,” said Kaliszuk. “So, that's what I did and it worked.”
In the semifinal, Kaliszuk pitched all seven innings and allowed just four hits while walking none and striking out eight.
“She [Kaliszuk] got tougher when they had runners in scoring position and we made some big defensive plays and that's what kept us in these two games,” said Smith. “That's what we knew was going to have to be the case today for us to win. There are still areas we need to work on. We got away with a couple of mistakes today and I don't anticipate us being able to get away with those mistakes in the future.”
Tecumseh's hits came from Haleigh Edgar, Chelsea Hutchison (double), Maddi Benedict, Felkey (triple, 2 RBI), Kaitlyn Kenyon (RBI), Nowak (homerun, 2 RBI) and Dykas.
With the wins the Indians remain in the hunt for the state title and advance to the regional competition set for Saturday, June 6, at Carleton Airport.