FAIRFIELD — The second half of the season has been as up-and-down as it gets for Fairfield High School pitcher Allison Rebling.
But, with the postseason in gear, Rebling turned the page with one of her better performances of the season.
Rebling struck out 14 and walked one over seven dominating innings of two-hit softball as the Trojans used a pair of big innings to defeat Keokuk 7-1 in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal game Thursday at Fairfield Middle School. The Trojans (21-18) will visit Mount Pleasant in a regional final Saturday.
“I’ve been having a pointer-finger problem, and that’s crucial for my riseball because that’s my out pitch,” Rebling said. “It gets a lot of hitters out. You don’t really want to go through something like that in the middle of the season, but I feel like I’ve bounced back from it.”
Rebling has been plagued by walks in several starts this season because of the injury, but she also lost to a Keokuk team that had just three wins (3-31) all season. So, she also had a little extra incentive to give a strong performance.
“I wasn’t in a rhythm down there, so this was a bit of a revenge game,” she said. “They have some good hitters, but I knew the defense behind me could make plays.”
The Chiefs broke on top in the opening inning, with a hard ground ball by pitching counterpart Erica Kruse scoring Abby Arrowood.
However, the Trojans answered quickly in the bottom half when Coty Engle scored on a wild pitch.
The Trojans’ didn’t really start clicking offensively until they hit the ball hard on the ground, which they did in the fourth inning to break the game open. Fairfield scored three unearned runs in the fourth, as two errors opened the door for the big inning.
Rebling’s hard ground ball to shortstop was misplayed, scoring Shaylin Drish for a 3-1 lead. Later, Peyton McCabe was hit by a pitch to bring in another run and push the lead to three.
If there was any doubt about the outcome in the later innings, Destiny Gridley erased all of it as she cleared the bases with a two-out double in the sixth to create the margin of victory.
“We’d played Keokuk four times, so we knew that if we could hit the ball hard, they would make mistakes,” Fairfield coach Bob Bradfield said. “But we’d talked since last Friday about how Keokuk was going to come ready to play, and they certainly did that.
“(Kruse) threw pretty well. She had a lot of change-ups and mixed those in with a fastball that has decent speed. She’s going to be a tough one if she keeps developing.”
Rebling said the Trojans made adjustments after they lost to Kruse 4-3 in Keokuk. They were ready for the offspeed pitches.
“We didn’t take a lot of pitches tonight. We went up there ready for the first pitch,” she said. “We expected a lot of change-ups, and that’s what we saw.”
The Trojans will have their hands full against Mount Pleasant, but the teams split their four Southeast Conference games.
“It’s a big rivalry for us, but I think we have some confidence because we’ve played a postseason game and they had the bye,” Rebling said. “They beat me both times, but I know what I have to do. Our team knows what it has to do.”
Chad Drury can be reached at email@example.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury