ELWOOD — Over the last two nights, the town of Elwood has had plenty to celebrate on the diamond.
One night after the boys secured a sectional crown with a 13-3 win over Sheridan, the ladies took to the home field one more time and scored a 9-0 win over Shenandoah to capture the regional championship.
The Lady Panthers advance to the semi-state at Eastern (Greentown) and will play at 11 a.m. on Saturday against the winner of Eastside vs. Bremen.
Elwood scored eight runs in the first three innings to seize control. Then solid pitching combined with shut down defense to make sure the runs would stand.
Freshman Mackenzie Bryan got the start on the mound for Elwood and struck out two batters in a row after yielding a one-out single in the first. Katelyn Leisure led off the Elwood half of the first with a walk, Jessie Noone followed with a double and Taylor Noone hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Leisure and give Elwood a 1-0 lead.
Jessica Taylor followed with a solid single to score Noone and up the lead to two. In the second, the Lady Panthers did it with two outs. Shenandoah starter Rachel Krathwohl sent down the first two hitters of the inning but No. 9 hitter Meredith Helpling laced a triple to right center. Leisure and both Noone sisters reached and scored as Elwood opened a 6-0 lead.
Bryan allowed one other base runner in the first three innings as Elwood seized command. The run support and defense behind her helped Bryan get into a groove on the mound, finding confidence that can be rare for a freshman in a pressure situation in the tournament.
“It was really important (to score early) because I always feel better with extra runs on the board,” said Bryan.