St. Louis rolls into playoffs with a win

<p class="p1">St. Louis junior Hannah Derouen struck out 14 batters on Monday in a 3-2 win over Westlake.</p>Rodrick Anderson/American PressRodrick Anderson Prep Sports Reporter

<p class="p1">WESTLAKE — St. Louis Catholic junior Hannah Derouen mowed down Westlake with precision in a 3-2 District 4-3A road win.

<p class="p1">Derouen struck out 14 and held Westlake to just two hits, a pair of solo home runs by Myka Lester and Kayla Kennedy, and walked just three batters.

<p class="p1">Even when backed into a corner, Derouen came through for the Saints (17-9, 9-3). 

<p class="p1">She hit the first batter she face, but rebounded with three straight outs to end the first inning.

<p class="p1">With two outs and one runner on base in the bottom of the third inning, Derouen walked two straight batters to load the bases, but got Lester to go down swinging.

<p class="p1">In the seventh, Kennedy hit a solo home run to right field to cut the Saints’ lead to one, but Derouen quickly regrouped with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to end the game.

<p class="p1">“This is not our first time being in that spot,” St. Louis head coach Mike Williams said. “She has been in that situation all season long with her back against the wall and having to perform. 

<p class="p1">“I am really proud of her. She did a great job today.”

<p class="p1">Derouen has over 180 strikeouts on the season.

<p class="p1">“She has been our backbone in that circle all season long,’’ Williams said. “We are not standing where we are today without her.”

<p class="p1">While Derouen was getting the job down in the circle, sophomore third baseman Madison Brinkman provided all the offense the Saints needed.

<p class="p1">Olivia Mayo reached base on an error and Katelyn Courville drew a walk with one out in the third inning before Brinkman, who went 4-for-4 on Friday against Vermilion Catholic, sent a 0-1 pitch over the left field fence.

<p class="p1">“She has swung a good bat for us all year long,” Williams said. “He is really getting hot at the right time. She is getting a little confidence and that is good for us as a team.”

<p class="p1">Westlake saw its eight-game win streak and a chance at a share of the District 4-3A championship end. The Rams were held to under 10 hits for first time in six games.

<p class="p1">“Hannah (Derouen) is a really good pitcher,” Westlake head coach Lindsey Langner said. “She kept us on our toes. 

<p class="p1">“I don’t think that we took the right approach at the plate. Some of them started swinging right off the bat at her high stuff and off the plate. We can’t afford to dig holes like we did and expect to fight back, especially facing somebody like Hannah.”

<p class="p1">Langer is hoping this loss if a wake up call for the Rams, who are expected to get a top-16 seed when the playoff brackets are released on Thursday.

<p class="p1">“It is definitely not what we want going into the playoffs,” Langner said. “Hopefully we will learn from it and have a go get it attitude as far as not taking anyone lightly.”

<p class="p1">Lester, who gave Westlake (17-7, 10-2) a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the second inning, took the loss. She allowed three runs on three hits with eight strikeouts and four walks.

<p class="p1">St. Louis extended its win streak to six games and is currently ranked 11th in Division II.

<p class="p1">“It is the girls, not me,” Williams said. “They have bought into what we are trying to teach and they have had success with that. 

<p class="p1">“They have come together as a team and play for each other. It is their pride in their program and themselves.”