By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
FRANKTON, Ind. —
On a warm and windy Tuesday evening, four teams hit the field at Frankton with a chance to play for the Sectional 40 softball championship. The host Frankton Eagles grabbed the first spot in the final with a dominating 24-0 win over Winchester.
The Eagles put three runs on the board in the first and did not slow down on their way to the big win.
“I figured we would come out hitting, and we did” said Frankton coach Jeremy Parker. “Hopefully, it will be a good boost for tomorrow, and we’ll come out ready to play.”
The top four batters in the order for Frankton had big nights, as leadoff hitter Natalie McGuire singled to start the first and scored on a Lexi Gray double. McGuire went to the plate five times in the game, scoring all five times. Sydney Smith reached base four times, scoring three runs.
The first inning double for Gray was the first of a five-hit, eight-RBI night for the catcher. Kaylee Irwin hit a run-scoring single after Gray, driving in the first of her six RBIs on the night.
Combined, the top four scored 15 of the 24 runs and drove in 16.
Gray finished 5-for-5 with four runs scored, while Irwin was 3-for-5 with three runs scored and a two-run homer to her credit.
“That is what we rely on, (the) middle of our order hitting them in and the top has to set the table,” Parker said.
In the circle, Janson Jerrell was dominating in her own right.
After giving up a lead-off single, Jerrell settled down and allowed only two more baserunners. Jerrell pitched five innings, giving up two hits, one walk and two strikeouts.
In Game 2, the Wapahani Raiders relied on the right arm of starter Hanna Rose and the bat of shortstop Angelica McKibben to advance to the final with a 10-2 win over the Lapel Bulldogs.
McKibben led off the game with a home run on the second pitch by Lapel starter Katelyn Willis and hit another homer in the sixth that busted the windshield of a van parked beyond the left field fence. McKibben had a single and a double to complete a four-hit night.
“McKibben is a heckuva hitter,” Lapel coach Scott Rich said. “You have to keep the ball away from her, we just didn’t keep it far enough away.”
Rose was dominant on the mound, giving up two runs on seven hits in seven innings of work with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
“We could not put hits together, struggled putting the ball in play for the most part as a team,” Rich said.
Wapahani scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings, but it was two runs in the fifth that may have made the biggest difference.
With the Raiders leading 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Hannah Harless drew a leadoff walk. Centerfielder Daniele Burnell slapped a double to the wall that drove in Harless. Burnell scored on a two-out double by Stacy Bauer to cut the lead to one.
But Wapahani had an answer in the top of the fifth as leadoff batter Amanda Parsons singled and Katelyn Myers drove a home run to left center for a 5-2 edge.
Wapahani added a run in the sixth and ended any hope for Lapel with a four-run seventh.
The Bulldogs did not threaten until the bottom of the seventh when Rachael Sherwood singled and Kirsten Rich drew a walk with one out. But Rose sent Mackenzie Land down on strikes, and Harless flew out to shallow left to end the game.
Lapel finishes 10-14 on the year and will lose Kennedy Teegarden, Stacy Bauer, Alicia Sprague, Sherwood and Devon Bodenhorn to graduation.
Wapahani will take on Frankton today at 5 p.m. in the championship game at Frankton.