By MAT MIKESELL
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Mary Beth Hugenberg and the Quincy Notre Dame softball team aren't sweating the first loss of the season after splitting a doubleheader with Peoria Notre Dame.
After winning the opener 1-0 Friday at The Backyard, the Lady Raiders plan to grow from the 7-3 loss in Game 2.
"It gave us more fight," Hugenberg said. "You can always learn something from a win, but you learn a lot from a loss."
The biggest lesson is winning innings.
Trailing 7-3 after the third, QND (12-1) held PND to one base runner the rest of the game. The Lady Raiders didn't take advantage and only collected one hit after the third.
A few more hits might have changed the result.
"Those middle innings we shut them down, but we didn't come back and score," QND coach Eric Orne said. "If we win those innings, we maybe win this game."
PND (15-4) went in order in the first inning, but got to pitcher Sawyer Whelan for five runs in the second.
A lead-off walk by Mikkinzie Stokes and a one-out double by Chloe Petersen put runners in scoring position. The next four Irish hitters plated four runs on a groundball, two singles and a double. The fifth run came on an RBI single by pitcher Annie Fleming.
"We said let the last game go and just swing the bat," PND coach Ed Olehy said. "We got some runs early, and it made it easier on our pitchers. They were able to settle down a little bit."SClBFor QND, it let them know just one run wasn't enough.
"It was a wake-up call," Hugenberg said. "We weren't just going to roll over and give up."
In the opener, Ashley Wensing and Stokes engaged in a pitcher's duel for seven innings.
Stokes took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before Whelan's leadoff single broke it up. Wensing retired 18 straight PND hitters after allowing a two-out single in the first.
PND's only other hits were a pair of two-out singles in the seventh.
The Lady Raiders struggled with Stokes' off-speed pitches as several hitters were early on pitches.
In the fourth, QND broke through by manufacturing a run.
After Whelan's bloop single to right, she stole second base during Jennie Polak's at-bat. One out later, Hugenberg brought home Whelan on a first-pitch double to left.
"I knew the first pitch was going to be a strike," Hugenberg said. "I was going to swing at the first strike because I didn't want to get behind in the count, and it went well."
It was the only run support Wensing needed as she struck out nine Irish hitters.
"I was really nervous for this game," Wensing said. "My pitching was really on today, and with my team behind me, we were on in the first game."
She's thrown a perfect game this season, but Orne said Wensing's performance in Game 1 was her best.
"It was an old-fashioned pitcher's duel," Orne said. "I think she threw her best game of the year. She mixed and matched (her pitches)."