By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
FRANKTON, Ind. —
For only the fourth time in school history and second year in a row, the Wapahani Lady Raiders are softball sectional 40 champions after a 9-4 win Wednesday over the host Frankton Lady Eagles. As with all championships, it did not come easy.
In a little bit of a repeat from their 10-2 win over Lapel on Tuesday, Wapahani hit three home runs and Hanna Rose pitched seven innings to earn the title.
Thanks to the draw, Frankton was the “road” team in the contest and led off the first inning. Natalie McGuire hit a shot to Angelica McKibben at short that nearly went into left field. Instead, McKibben backhanded the ball and fired the ball to first to narrowly retire McGuire. In the bottom of the first. McKibben led off with a single and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Frankton starter Tia Sharp. After Amanda Parsons walked, Kaija Aikman drove McKibben home on a ground out. Rose came up and delivered a two-run homer to left for a 3-0 Lady Raiders lead.
“You get one home run and it just gives you a little spark,” said Wapahani coach Jacci Glancy of Rose’s shot. “I was happy that we came out like that, we came out ready to go.”
Wapahani extended its lead to 4-0 in the second and came up with one of the all-time rally-killing plays in the top of the third.
Taylor Ryan led off the third for Frankton and delivered the team’s first hit of the night. Shelby Hulse drew a walk to continue the threat for Frankton. Ashtyn Rastetter, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, squared around to bunt the runners over. Rastetter caught a little too much of the ball and popped it up in front of the plate. Wapahani third baseman Katelyn Myers made a diving catch of the pop-up, rolling over on the ground with her mitt extended. Myers stood, fired to Parsons at first, who in turn threw to second to easily record a triple play.
“All week we worked on a lot of bunting situations and she (Myers) mentioned she let one drop,” Glancy said. “She said ‘Jacci, I’ll get that in a game.’ As soon as she got it, she said ‘I told you I would get it in a game!”’
It disrupted a golden opportunity for the Lady Eagles and Mother Nature took over from there.
Rain moved in during the bottom of the third, suspending the game for about 30 minutes with Wapahani leading 5-0 and threatening.
When play resumed, the Lady Raiders had two on with one out and the bottom of their order coming to the plate.
Kerri Myers walked to load the bases, but Ryan was able to retire Rhyan Webster. Ryan threw two wild pitches with Katelyn Buchanan at the plate, scoring two runs for a 7-0 Wapahani lead.
“That was big,” Glancy said of the extra runs. “With a team like Frankton, if you give them an inch they take a mile. I told them (Wapahani) they had to jump on them and hold that foot down on them.”
Instead of packing it in, the Lady Eagles came out swinging in the fourth. McGuire reached on an error and scored on a single by Kaylee Irwin. Irwin later scored on a Sharp double. Frankton scored again in the fifth to cut the lead to 7-3, but Wapahani plated two runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach. Caitlyn Clark drove Irwin in for the final Frankton run after Irwin hit a double in the top of the sixth.
“That’s the positive thing about today, they didn’t quit,” Frankton coach Jeremy Parker said of his squad. “I thought four runs would be enough, I never would have dreamed they (Wapahani) would hit three bombs.”
In addition to the three home runs, it was seven walks and a hit batsman that helped doom Frankton’s chances.
“We walked seven and hit one. That’s eight people on base and four of them scored,” Parker said. “Take away those runs and it’s 5-4.”
Frankton’s first four batters, who slaughtered Winchester’s pitching on Tuesday night, could only muster three hits against Wapahani.
“Our top three went 1-11. You’re not going to win many games with that,” Parker said.
Frankton wraps up the season at 11-10 and will graduate six players: McGuire, Sydney Smith, Hulse, Holli Jones, Kelaney Smith and Liz Armendariz.
Wapahani is 23-7 and will host the winner of sectional 39 next Tuesday.