Big day at plate for Fatima as Lady Comets romp to pair of victories

Fatima pitcher Mia Kliethermes delivers the ball to the plate during the seventh inning of Saturday's game against Willard at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex. (Greg Jackson/News Tribune)

The Fatima Lady Comets gave their bats quite a workout Saturday afternoon.

Fatima scored 31 runs and pounded out 28 hits, sweeping a doubleheader against the Hickman Kewpies and the Willard Lady Tigers at the American Legion Post 5 Sports Complex.

“I told the girls to be picky and patient, don’t swing at anything that’s not your favorite until you have to,” Fatima coach Ashlee Schnieders said following an 18-2 win against Hickman and a 13-2 victory against Willard. “That’s what they did.”

Fatima had 14 hits in each game.

“We executed, we made adjustments against multiple pitchers,” Schnieders said. “That’s really all you can ask for.”

The bats were pinging often in the sixth and seventh innings against Willard to wrap up the twinbill. However, the Lady Comets drove in three of their first four runs of the game on balls that never left the infield.

Lilly Cunningham and Ella Massman hit back-to-back RBI groundouts in the second inning, scoring Mia Kliethermes and Kristen Robertson to give Fatima a 2-1. Then, in the fourth, Massman grounded out to the shortstop again and Kliethermes came home from third base to extend the lead to 4-1.

“We been working on our baserunning, we’ve been working on our game play,” Schnieders said. “If you put the ball in play and execute well, you score runs.”

Faith Jaegers slugged better than 1.000 in Saturday’s games, totaling five extra-base hits. She added to the Fatima lead with a solo home run in the fifth to straightaway center field, her fifth homer of the season.

Through 10 games, Jaegers has a .583 batting average. Fifteen of her 21 hits this season have gone for extra bases, including all six hits Saturday.

“That’s pretty typical for Faith,” Schnieders said.

Even while hitting out of the leadoff spot, Jaegers drove in six runs, three in each game. The bottom of the Fatima batting order consistently got on base ahead of Jaegers.

“One through nine, they’re doing their part,” Schnieders said. “That’s what makes you a good ballclub. If we can consistently do that, then we’re going to be tough.”

Willard answered with one run in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out RBI double by Reece Anderson, cutting the Fatima lead to 5-2.

Fatima coaches asked the players to get that run back in the sixth. The Lady Comets got four runs instead.

Hannah Heisler and Kaitlyn Plassmeyer hit back-to-back RBI singles, then Kliethermes belted a two-run double into the right-center field gap, all with two outs. That pushed the lead to 9-2.

“Good teams are going to score runs,” Schnieders said. “The better teams are going to score more. You’ve got to answer.”

Fatima added seven runs in the seventh inning to win by 11. Jaegers added a two-run double in the inning to finish with two hits and three RBI.

Plassmeyer had three hits and two RBI, Kliethermes and Cunningham each had two hits and two RBI and Elise Dickneite came off the bench to have two hits.

Plenty of Fatima players came off the bench to help the offense against Hickman. One of those players was Megan Gabelsberger, who pinch hit in the second inning and drove the first pitch she saw over the left-field fence for a two-run home run.

“We’ve got a bench full of people who can be in the starting lineup,” Schnieders said. “As a coach, you love that, but it’s even better for the girls. They can trust whoever is being put into the ballgame.”

Fatima scored nine runs in the top of the first inning against Hickman. Jaegers had two doubles in the inning, while Heisler, Robertson and Eva Wildhaber each had one double.

“I lose every coin toss that we’ve ever had (to determine the home team),” Schnieders said. “My girls know they better come out swinging.”

Jaegers went 4-for-5 with three doubles and a triple to lead the Lady Comets and Cunningham finished with three hits. Heisler and Wildhaber each added two hits.

Wildhaber also drove in four runs and Jaegers and Heisler each had three RBI.

Fatima also had solid pitching in the two wins.

Avery Brandt was the winning pitcher against Hickman, giving up two runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout.

Taylor Baumhoer threw four innings to get the win against Willard, allowing one run on one hit with two walks and five strikeouts. Kliethermes pitched three innings in relief, striking out four and walking none while giving up one run on four hits.

“When you can go into two ballgames and throw three pitchers, giving some of them a break, that’s exactly what we needed,” Schnieders said.

Fatima (8-2) returns to Show-Me Conference play Monday at Russellville, starting a six-game week for the Lady Comets.

“I tell the girls, ‘I’m not expecting you to go undefeated, but I’m expecting us to learn every day and get better,’” Schnieders said of the defending Class 3 state champions.