College softball: Mizera powers Saints to UMAC title
St. Scholastica softball pitcher Chrisi Mizera confided with teammate Maggie Schley on Saturday that her arm was sore. Schley told her, "Well, we're going to make good use of it." The Saints sure did. Using Mizera's arm and bat, St. Scholastica p...
St. Scholastica softball pitcher Chrisi Mizera confided with teammate Maggie Schley on Saturday that her arm was sore.
Schley told her, "Well, we're going to make good use of it."
The Saints sure did.
Using Mizera's arm and bat, St. Scholastica powered to a 7-1 victory over the University of Northwestern in the UMAC tournament championship game at Kenwood Field. Mizera threw a five-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks, while offensively, she had two home runs and three RBIs.
It was the Saints' 14th UMAC tournament title and seventh in the past nine years, and they earned the conference's automatic bid into their sixth NCAA Division III national tournament.
St. Scholastica (24-15) finds out at noon Monday who, when and where it plays.
"Everyone did the best they could," Mizera said. "I actually like when my arm is a little sore, because it helps get you prepared. You have to be more on your game knowing that, and it's a natural thing. I'm not hurt or anything."
Who could blame her for a little fatigue?
Mizera, a senior from the Chicago suburb of Frankfort, logged all but one inning of the Saints' three wins in the double-elimination tournament, outscoring the opposition 31-1.
Mizera (13-8) didn't surrender a run until the sixth inning Saturday, snapping her streak of 22 scoreless innings.
Northwestern (19-20) couldn't string much together. The Eagles had runners on second and third with one out in the first inning but came up empty after Schley, a third baseman, caught a foul ball between third and home and then doubled up a runner tagging for home.
"I saw no one covering home, so I kind of tackled her," Schley said.
That ended the inning, but the other Northwestern player on base didn't realize it and went for third. Schley promptly threw her out, too.
What a way to start the game.
After that, Mizera found a groove.
"Chrisi has had a great year, but this week she took it to another level," St. Scholastica coach Rilee Dawson said.
Northwestern had never beaten Mizera until a 4-2 victory earlier this season, so they had confidence despite needing to win twice to advance. Those hopes began to dissipate after Mizera launched her fourth and fifth home runs of the season, the first a line drive that left the park in a hurry, the second a towering fly ball off Northwestern starter Lauren Silbernick (10-10).
"Our catcher said Lauren hit her spots on both those pitches, but Mizera went low and dug them out," Eagles coach Alicia du Monceaux said. "That's where you tip your hat and say, 'Good hit.' "
Mizera said she likes facing Silbernick and likes low pitches, so those two looked like meatballs.
"I saw them and was like, 'Yep,' " Mizera said.
After that damage, Mizera came up in the sixth and walked on four pitches that wouldn't have been in Paul Bunyan's strike zone.
"I didn't tell (Silbernick) to walk her, but I said, 'Let's mix it up,' and if you walk her, you walk her," du Monceaux said. "Let's not give her the same pitch she just took yard the last two times."
Mindy Forcier had three hits and Northwestern's lone run, while Megan Threlkeld had the other two hits and an RBI. But that was it.
Besides Mizera, Toni Bishop had two hits for St. Scholastica while Schley roped a two-run triple down the right-field line to set the tone in the first inning. The Saints were well on their way to a Gatorade shower for Dawson and cupcakes for freshman Samantha Clark's birthday.
Schley, who also pitches for the Saints, called Mizera an inspiration.
"Softball pitching is a natural motion, but three games in three days is toughing it," Schley said. "Your legs get tired, your speed is down and it's harder to hit your spots. You have to use every ounce of your being to make sure you're on the level you were at that first game, and she did it, but she does it every time. She doesn't slack off. Even if she's tired, it doesn't show."