‘I knew we were gonna find a way,’ Holt said after walk-off win against SLU

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

Redshirt sophomore infielder Aniya Holt was the catapult that the Eastern softball teams’ offense needed to clinch its 4-3 win over Saint Louis University Wednesday evening at Williams Field.

Head coach Tara Archibald said that Holt is clutch and that since she has recruited Holt in high school, there are two things she knows about Holt: she is a winner, and she is clutch.

Sophomore infielder/outfielder Aniya Holt (9), swings at a pitch from a St. Louis University pitcher, during their game Wednesday evening. The Panthers won 4-3. (Han Byer)

“That’s who you want up in that moment,” Archibald said. “I knew she would square it up, I didn’t know if it would fall for her or not, but I knew she would square it up.”

It was a battle of the pitchers through the first three innings as the game was scoreless. Both Panther starting pitcher Rachel Kauffman and Billiken starting pitcher Chole Wendling both had three up three down outings.

Kauffman faced 14 batters, allowing two hits, two runs, and two earned runs.

The Panthers had a couple of opportunities to score first but they could not get around Wendling and the defense behind her at the mound.

At the top of the fourth inning, Billiken infielder Chole Rhine hit a long ball to centerfield to sophomore outfielder Jaylen Prichard where Prichard missed catching the ball.

That set up catcher Abby Mallo to hit a two-run homerun, giving the Billikens a 2-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Panthers had a chance to put a run on the board after Holt was able to get a double after an error by Billiken’s first baseman. Holt was advanced to third on the next at-bat by sophomore infielder Riley Dittmar but the Panthers could not capitalize.

Junior right-hander Olivia Price took over at the mound for Kauffman in the fifth inning and Billiken right-hander Kaili Hanner took over for Wendling as well.

The Panthers took advantage of the pitching change in the bottom of the fifth as both Prichard and junior catcher Lindy Milkowski were walked.

A well hit ball by freshman infielder Kendall Grover drove Prichard in from second. At the next at-bat, Holt hit a double to left field, tying the game 2-2.

Freshman infielder, Kendal Grover (39), swings at a pitch from a St. Louis University pitcher during their game Wednesday evening. The Panthers won 4-3. (Han Byer)

Holt said that she was calm going into the at-bat.

“I knew no matter what the outcome was, my team was gonna get it done,” Holt said. “Whether we had to go back out here on defense and get three up three down and then come back up and hit. I knew we were gonna find a way.”

Archibald said that a moment like that is huge for a freshman.

“I’ll say this about Kendall Grover, when I watched her in travel ball that kid got walk off hit after walk off hit, like she’s another one that is used to being in those situations, and I had all the confidence in the world in her as well,” Archibald said.

In the top of the sixth inning, Rhine was walked, which allowed Gabbie Kowalik to drive her in during the next at-bat with a double to leftfield, putting the Billiken’s on top 3-2.

Then came the bottom of the seventh inning.

Prichard started off the Panthers with a single up the middle followed up by Milkowski hitting a double to left field.

Sophomore infielder/outfielder, Aniya Holt (9), and sophomore outfielder/infielder, Jaylen Prichard (3), high five after scoring from a hit from another teammate. The Panthers won 4-3 Wednesday afternoon on the Williams Field. (Han Byer)

Before that, Archibald called a timeout to talk to Milkowski. Archibald said that she told Milkowski that she wanted her to replicate what she did in practice yesterday.

“I said I want you to stay behind it and hit just like you did yesterday when you hit it at me and she almost put it in that bullpen,” Archibald said. “I just reminded her that she could hit that pitch and know what’s coming and attack.”

Grover stepped up to the plate and hit a triple during the next at-bat, sending both Prichard and Milkowski home to score, but Milkowski was tagged out in a pickle.

With the game tied once again, Holt stepped up to the plate and hit a walk-off RBI double to seal the 4-3 win.

Holt said that she does whatever she can for her team.

“So obviously, it’s not something that’s expected but it’s an expectation I have for myself to just do a job, do what I can so we can win the game,” Holt said.


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]