Notre Dame captures title

Sunday, September 16, 2007
Perryville sophomore Emily Hanquist smashed a home run against Vienna on Saturday at Shawnee Park.

Eftink delivered a two-run double to lead the Bulldogs to victory.

Notre Dame's Whitney Eftink faced a great deal of pressure Saturday.

Not only did she have to take her ACT test in the morning, but afterward she played in the championship game of the Jackson Invitational softball tournament, where she came up to bat with two outs in the sixth inning with her Bulldogs tied 2-2 against Seckman.

"I was really nervous because I haven't been hitting very well," she said. "But I got up there and I didn't think about it."

With two runners on, Eftink hammered a double all the way to the wall. Both runs scored.

Kelly senior Sarah Ruff, left, safely found her way back to third base while being chased by Nerinx Hall first baseman Lucy Cohen during Saturday's game in the Jackson Invite. (Kit Doyle)

From there, pitcher Lauren Reinagel and the Bulldogs' defense were able to keep the Seckman bats silent for a 4-2 win.

The victory marked the first time the Bulldogs (15-0) have won the Jackson Invitational. Notre Dame beat Goreville, Ill., 10-0, Cor Jesu 9-3 and Fox 6-2 to reach the title game.

Eftink and three other seniors missed the first two games because they were taking the ACT.

Eftink said her sixth-inning at bat was probably even more nerve-racking than the test.

"I'm super happy," she said. "I haven't been hitting very well and it was a big boost of confidence."

As for the ACT, Eftink said that math and science were the two most difficult sections, but overall she thinks she did well. She said she is proud of her teammates who filled in during the first two games when she and the other senior were not in the lineup.

"She did just a tremendous job," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "It was a big situation and she got a ball she could handle and she got a big hit, but we've been hitting up and down the lineup just one after the other and it's just a different person every game."

Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead in the championship game when Alexis Ralls doubled home Erika Reinagel in the first. Seckman went up 2-1 in the bottom half of that inning. Notre Dame tied it 2-2 in the fourth when Heather Menz hit a one-out grounder to shortstop, scoring a runner from third base.

That is the way the score stood until Eftink's big two-run double.

Reinagel pitched all four games. She improved her record to 14-0. Afterward, she was excited about the win and Eftink's hit.

"She was down the whole game because she was getting hits, but she wasn't getting them through," Reinagel said. "When she got that hit everyone was excited and she was just up for the rest of the game on. She just did amazing."

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