FREEBURG, Ill. — In sports, a devastating loss can often become fuel for a major comeback. Freeburg softball is proving that in 2022.
Freeburg made it all the way to the super sectionals in 2021 before Massac County ended their dreams of heading to state. They wouldn't be denied this year.
Freeburg shut out Pinckneyville on Monday to advance to the state softball tournament for the first time since 1985, when they took home the title.
And that loss to end the 2021 season has driven this experienced roster to make sure it didn't happen again this year.
"(The 2021 loss) drives every single person. Last year, we had a tough end to the season. It was just a tough game all the way around down at the super-sectional for us last year. But this year, obviously everything played into our favor," Freeburg head coach Becky Mueth said.
"I say everything happens for a reason, so I think we weren't meant to win last year because it makes this senior year even sweeter. So I think if we would have won last year we would have been like, 'Oh yeah we got it this is easy'. But this year we've really had to fight and get there so we know what it feels like," Freeburg senior pitcher Lizzy Ludwig said.
"That's definitely our biggest motivation I would say. I feel like we've been waiting for the moment yesterday ever since our season ended last year. So that's what's pushed us all year," Freeburg senior catcher Maddy Schwemmer said.
Oh, and the super-sectional victory on Monday just happened to be the team's 31st win in a row, which is a program record.
The battery of Ludwig and Schwemmer has been a big key for Freeburg this year, with Ludwig going 17-1 on the mound. But the pair said the whole team has been clicking since the season started.
"We're playing amazing Freeburg softball," Ludwig said. "We all have worked so hard this season and it's all coming together. We've been practicing so hard. Everybody's working so hard on their own, too, and everything is meshing."
"I would say for other teams there would be pressure, but for us, we work hard and come together every day to do what we need to do. It's kind of just like our job I guess you could say. It's our job to come here and win. That's what we do," Schwemmer said.
Freeburg baseball ended a long state championship drought last year to bring home a title, and the softball team has its sights set on doing the same thing this year.
"It's one of those things. I wasn't even one at that point (in 1985)," Mueth said." It's (winning a state title) almost like a mythical creature kind of here at Freeburg High School for softball. So, it would be an amazing experience to give to these girls, or for these girls to earn I should say. There's nothing given at this point, it's definitely earned. It would be a great thing to do for our town, our community and the girls."
"It would mean everything. I hope that we can just stay relaxed, play our best and see what happens," Ludwig said.