Home International Claire Schuyler isn’t related to Antioch teammate Jacey Schuler. ‘We get confused...

Claire Schuyler isn’t related to Antioch teammate Jacey Schuler. ‘We get confused a lot.’ But she can play too.

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PEORIA — Maybe Antioch sophomore shortstop Claire Schuyler can finally shed the Schuler tag next season.

Schuyler said she’s often mistaken for a relative of star senior pitcher Jacey Schuler.

“It happens all the time,” Schuyler said. “At some point, you just go with it and say ‘yes’ to everything. People mostly think we’re cousins.”

Schuler, a Michigan State recruit and the face of the program, does have a sister on the team, Tegan, who is a freshman outfielder. Schuyler isn’t related.

“We get confused a lot, always for sisters or cousins,” Jacey Schuler said. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve known her since I was super young, so I always felt like a big sister to her.”

Schuyler, who is the younger sister of Indiana catcher TJ Schuyler, could play a bigger role for the Sequoits following their 6-0 loss to Pontiac in the Class 3A state championship game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday. Antioch (29-7) fell short of its first state title for the second straight season but has many players returning, including Schuyler.

“We’re at the elite level,” Antioch coach Anthony Rocco said. “The seniors and Jacey put us right on the map. When the seniors were freshmen, we put people on notice. We have the goal to get back here and win it all.”

This time, Pontiac (31-7) won it all, as Stanford recruit Elena Krause scattered six hits, walked three and struck out nine in a complete game.

“We just couldn’t cash chips when we got runners on base, so that kind of gave that team some breathing room,” Rocco said. “I’m proud of how we hit. We put the ball in play, especially against a pitcher going to Stanford. Good job by Pontiac for executing and getting the timely hit. We couldn’t get the big hit.”

Antioch’s Jacey Schuler pitches against Pontiac during the Class 3A state championship game at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Rob Dicker / News-Sun)

Schuler allowed six runs — five earned — on seven hits and six walks while striking out six.

“They were all pretty good hitters and knew what I was throwing and fought off all of my pitches,” she said. “They took advantage of the mistakes.”

But Schuler made fewer mistakes than most during an illustrious career that includes a supersectional appearance as a freshman, a third-place trophy as a sophomore and two state championship games.

“It didn’t end how we wanted it to, but it was always our goal to go to state, and to go to state three times in a row and take second twice is pretty incredible, and we’re all pretty proud of it,” she said.

Schuler and Kailyn Bockwoldt each had two hits for Antioch, which loaded the bases in the top of the third inning. Schuyler, who entered the state semifinals batting .330 with 26 RBIs and a team-high four triples, then came to the plate. She lined a shot that Pontiac’s shortstop grabbed and turned into a double play.

“When I was on deck and saw Kailyn get on, it was a really good feeling, and I had a lot of confidence up there,” Schuyler said. “I knew I wanted to hit. I was so happy. I thought (that ball) was going through. It was a good play.”

Schuyler turned a double play of her own in the first, which helped limit Pontiac to two runs in the frame.

“I love turning double plays,” she said. “That’s my favorite thing. I love the energy, fastness and aggressiveness of (shortstop). You always have to be ready and have to react quickly.”

Schuyler is already a two-year starter at shortstop.

“Claire plays a key position,” Rocco said. “She communicates well in the infield and makes those great, elite plays. She helped today with that double play ball.”

Antioch sophomore second baseman Jadynn Ruiz, who went 1-for-2, said she and Schuyler work well together.

“I love playing with her on the field because we have such a good connection that we don’t even have to talk,” Ruiz said. “We can look at each other, and it will just click. I think our infield will be good next year.”

Antioch's Claire Schuyler (1) connects on a hip-high fastball. Antioch fell to Pontiac 6-0 in the Class 3A state championship at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria(Rob Dicker / New-Sun)
Antioch’s Claire Schuyler swings at a pitch during the Class 3A state championship game against Pontiac at Louisville Slugger Sports Complex in Peoria on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Rob Dicker / News-Sun)

Schuler said she has appreciated having Schuyler behind her.

“She does a great job at shortstop and always has my back,” Schuler said. “She’s a great hitter who works hard, and I can’t wait to see what she does in the next two years.”

Schuyler is looking forward to it too.

“I have to build up for next year,” she said. “I definitely think this year I had more confidence because I knew what to expect. My confidence level was higher than my freshman year.

“I’m excited for the next two years. I’m going to take it one step at a time and go from there.”

Bobby Narang is a freelance reporter.

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