Patience brought Ogden to the brink of the State Tournament.
Two bases-loaded walks proved to be the difference in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Pella Christian in a Class 2-A Regional softball semifinal.
Up next is a Monday final against Earlham.
“We’re okay,” coach Mike Moses said after the Bulldogs improved to 24-7. “If Denali (Loecker) can keep pitching like that and we can muster some runs, I think we have a chance against anybody.”
Loecker allowed just a single run while tossing 14 postseason innings, including an 8-0 triumph in the quarterfinals against I-35 Truro.
Her bid for a shutout Saturday ended when Pella Christian capitalized on a couple of defensive gaffes in the third inning.
Ogden regained control in the bottom of the fourth.
Reagan Church led off with a single. Amber Braniff drew a walk and Loecker was given a free pass to first base.
Lauren Kennedy followed and worked the count full before being walked, plating a run. After a pitching change, Meredith Adreon drew another bases-loaded walk.
After collecting nine walks while beating I-35, the Bulldogs continued to be selective.
“I thought we were a lot more patient tonight than we were Wednesday night and it helped us a lot,” Moses said.
Faith Mohr delivered a run-scoring single to right field in the second inning, to get Ogden on the board. Gabby Ross also contributed a base hit in that frame.
Loecker, meanwhile, shows faith when opponents refuse to challenge her.
“Every time I get on base, I know I’m going to move around somehow,” said Loecker, who entered the weekend with a .786 on-base percentage. “There’s a pretty good chance when I get walked, I’m scoring.”
The Bulldogs struck the ball hard several times, but were never able to deliver the knockout blow.
“We had some really nice hits, but their outfield is fast,” Moses said. “They ran some down.”
Ogden seemed a little jittery early, but with a core of juniors to rely on, began to embrace the moment.
“We’ve just got to play together and keep each other calm and focused,” Loecker said. “This year, we’ve become really close as a team and we’ve gotten a lot better.”
Moses also does his part to keep things loose, even if it requires a little improvisation and teasing.
“I try to make some wise remarks, you know, get them laughing,” he said. “Try to keep them loose… say something goofy or stupid to make them laugh at me, try and lighten the load.”