By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
FRANKTON, Ind. —
Shenandoah sent 24 batters to the plate and scored nine runs in the final three innings of its Class 2A softball sectional opener Monday at Frankton.
And the Raiders (15-12) were the losing team.
Lapel (10-13) failed to reach base in 13 straight at-bats from the end of the second inning to start of the seventh and rallied from deficits in each of the final two innings to beat Shenandoah 12-11 in an eight-inning postseason classic.
“That was an old-fashioned slugfest,” Raiders coach Stacey Goyette said.
It was a game marked by spectacular momentum shifts, unlikely heroes, warm temperatures and high winds that seemed to carry nearly every fly ball close to the outfield fence.
Shenandoah swept Lapel by scores of 12-5 and 8-4 in a doubleheader on May 11 so the Bulldogs weren’t engaging in any premature celebration after jumping out to a 7-0 lead Monday.
Kirsten Rich doubled to lead off the bottom of the first and scored on a groundout by Hannah Harless. Then the wheels came off for Shenandoah’s defense.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out in the second and prompted Goyette to replace her daughter Sydney in the circle with ace Rachel Krathwohl. It looked like the move would pay dividends when right fielder Andrea Hise made an outstanding running catch to save at least one run and rob Rich of another extra-base hit.
But the next two Bulldogs reached on infield singles, and three runs came across as the Raiders botched two plays at the plate.
Daniele Burnell made the missed opportunities hurt with a three-run homer to right-center field that capped the rally.
With a big lead in hand, Lapel coach Scott Rich began begging his players not to let up.
“We knew what they were capable of doing,” he said, citing the recent doubleheader sweep. “They were scoring a run here and a run there, and everybody’s saying ‘Nobody’s hurt.’ But before you know it, those runs accumulate and you’re playing from behind.”
Krathwohl opened the door for the Raiders’ rally by settling into the circle. She surrendered a double to Katelyn Willis immediately following Burnell’s home run then sat down the next 13 hitters in order.
Meanwhile, the Shenandoah offense chipped away with two runs in the second on a single by Sydney Goyette and a groundout by Taylor Goyette. But the Raiders left many more runs on the bases.
Shenandoah stranded a runner on third in the first inning, runners on first and second in the second and an extra run on third base in the third.
The Raiders put runners on first and second to start the fifth inning, but Willis caught a hard line drive at second base and doubled up the runner on first to kill the rally.
Shenandoah finally broke through in the sixth, with an RBI double by Ashley Brown. Taylor Vacarro added a run-scoring single and later crossed the plate herself on a wild pitch. But the Raiders ultimately left the bases loaded and lost a chance to take the lead.
Given another shot in the seventh, Shenandoah pounced.
Nicole Lawyer’s three-run double gave the Raiders their first lead at 8-7, and Ellie Rider and Sydney Goyette added RBI singles to give Shenandoah a sudden cushion heading into the bottom of the seventh.
“You just can’t give a team a seven-run head start,” Stacey Goyette said after watching her team fail to hold the lead.
Lapel loaded the bases on a double by Kirsten Rich and a single by Harless, sandwiched around a walk to McKenzie Land. Krathwohl then induced a groundball to get a force out at home before Willis singled to make it 10-8.
Scott Rich considered lifting catcher Brittany Young — who had struck out in her previous three at-bats — for a pinch-hitter. But he listened to his gut and left her in the game.
Young responded by singling high off the left-center field fence, knocking in two runs to tie the game.
“It would have been so easy for her to go up there defeated after her first three at-bats,” Rich said. “But instead she came through with a big hit.”
Krathwohl escaped the inning with a flyout and a strikeout to force extras. Then Shenandoah regained the lead on Vacarro’s RBI single in the eighth.
Again, Lapel immediately answered.
Rachel Sherwood reached on a groundball to the shortstop to start the inning, and Rich, Land and Harless followed with back-to-back singles to tie the game.
Burnell — the second-inning home run hero — won it with a looping single to right field on the first pitch she saw in the eighth.
“These kids showed a lot of guts today,” Scott Rich said. “They showed a lot of resiliency. I am so proud of the way they got this victory.”
The Bulldogs have little time to rest.
Host Frankton and Winchester will open the semifinals today at 5 p.m., with Lapel battling Wapahani around 7 p.m.
Scott Rich said he thinks getting right back out on the field is best for his team. The Bulldogs lost 5-4 against Wapahani during the regular season and were eliminated by the Raiders in last year’s sectional title game.
“Emotions are high, and we’ve got a little taste of victory,” Scott Rich said. “They knocked us out of the sectional last year in the championship game. Hopefully, we’re looking for a little payback.”