By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
The host Pendleton Heights Arabians used all three phases of softball to earn a 6-4 win over Jennings County on Saturday and capture the eighth annual Fred Miller Horseshoe Classic at Legends Field.
After two solid pitching performances by Brooke Wendling and Bailey Benefiel earlier in the day, it was the offense and defense that saved the day for the Arabians in the final.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning, Pendleton Heights plated three runs to take the lead. Jennings County tied the game in the top of the third, but Pendleton Heights erupted for three more runs in the bottom to regain a 6-3 edge.
Benefiel settled down and held the Panthers off the scoreboard until the top of the sixth. Bug Donnell doubled in Lauren Klosterman to cut the lead to 6-4.
Wendling replaced Benefiel before a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out. The Arabians defense came up big to keep the lead.
Brittney Bonesteel struck out for Jennings County, but catcher Allie Slick dropped the ball. Slick fired to first to get the out, and Jordan Dean fired back to Slick to gun down Donnell trying to steal home to end the inning.
Dean caught a lazy pop up by Klosterman to secure the win in the seventh with two runners on base.
“That was by far our best game of the season,” Pendleton Heights coach Rob Davis said. “We have a great 1-2 punch with Wendling and Benefiel. They are going to be special this year”.
The Arabians started the day with a 2-1 win over South Bend Adams.
Both teams put two runners on base in the first but were unable to score. Pendleton Heights appeared to have the first run in the fourth inning, but Eagles centerfielder Shannon Hutchinson made a fantastic catch to rob Dean of a home run.
Hutchinson crashed hard face first into the fence as she reached up to grab the ball.
“That was probably the best catch you’ll see all year,” Davis said.
The Eagles scored in the top of the fifth to lead 1-0, but Morgan Hubble and Sydney Windlan hit back-to-back doubles for Pendleton Heights in the bottom of the inning to tie the game.
Heather Wendling reached on an error by Maggie Birch, Delilah Wright moved Wendling to second and Dean doubled to give Pendleton Heights runners at second and third with one out.
Benefiel stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter and delivered the go-ahead run on a ground out to second. Benefiel stayed in the game, replacing Wendling on the mound.
Benefiel struck out the side to pick up the save and give Wendling the 2-1 win.
In Game 2, Pendleton Heights scored a run in the first and added two more in the third to beat Columbus North 4-2.
Wright had two hits and drove in a run, Sarah Dixon hit an inside-the-park home run, and Dean drove in two runs to pace Pendleton Heights.
Benefiel pitched a complete game, throwing 124 pitches to pick up the win. She gave up two runs, struck out three and walked only one. Kelsey Lucas hit a home run for the Bulldogs, and Tommi Stowers went 2-for-2 with an RBI. Christine Bomardiere took the loss for Columbus North, pitching six innings while surrendering four runs on five hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
In other action, Madison-Grant lost the fifth-place against Chesteron 4-3. The Argylls dropped their opener 12-4 to Columbus North but rebounded with a 5-1 win over South Bend Adams in games played at the Pendleton Baseball Complex.
Columbus North defeated Rising Sun (Ky.) 8-7 for third place.