Softball: Schuler sisters lead Antioch back to 3A state championship game

PEORIA — Playing softball on the same high school team as your sister is a wonderful experience.

Especially when you're playing for a state championship.

Jacey Schuler fired a shoutout and her younger sister, Tegan Schuler, drove in the first run as Antioch advanced to the Class 3A title game with a 2-0 victory over Waterloo in the second semifinal Friday at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria.

The Sequoits (29-5) will play Pontiac, a 10-0 winner in five innings over Fenwick, on Saturday for the title. It's the second straight season that Antioch is making a championship game appearance. Pontiac (30-7) is making its first.

"It's awesome, the whole year has been awesome," Jacey Schuler said of playing with Tegan. "I'm so happy for her to be here, especially on this big stage. I told her not to take it for granted.

"Ever since that loss (1-0 in 12 innings to Lemont) in the title game last year, we wanted to get back. After giving up a few hits (including a leadoff double) to start, I just had to bear down."

Jacey Schuler (23-3) has pitched every game at state in the past three years for the Sequoits, who placed third in Class 3A in 2022. She was her usual self against Waterloo (28-7), which was making its first state appearance since 1989. The senior right-hander, who has committed to Michigan State, fired a 3-hitter with one walk and 13 strikeouts.

But the game was still scoreless in the bottom of the sixth. With senior designated player Grace Green, who reached on an error to open the inning, on second base with one out, Tegan Schuler stepped to the plate. The freshman center fielder flared a liner to right that dropped in and went for an RBI triple.

"I had two strikeouts in my first two at-bats," Tegan Schuler said. "I was a little upset at the strikeouts but came in with a new attitude, a new mindset. I just hit it and ran as fast as I can."

What advice did Jacey Schuler give to her younger sibling?

"I just told her to keep it short, hit the ball and she did," the older Schuler said. "I'm so proud of her."

Tegan Schuler then scored when sophomore second baseman Jadynn Ruiz reached on an error. Senior righty Mia Miller (18-4) was the tough luck loser, allowing no earned runs on three hits, with no walks and 10 strikeouts. Sophomores Samantha Hillner and Addison Webb had the other two hits for the Sequoits.

"We have five seniors and they've all been on the varsity at least three years," Antioch coach Anthony Rocco said. "That experience pays off. But also the top five hitters in our lineup are a freshman and four sophomores. They all came up clutch for us."

Being that freshman at the top of the order, Tegan Schuler came up clutch.

"I was at every game for my sister at state the last two years," Tegan Schuler said. "I've had her as my role model so to be here and be a part of this is so special. Just to help her out as my sister and my team is very exciting."

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