By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
FRANKTON, Ind. —
It wasn’t the best of conditions for softball Friday at Frankton, but the action on the field more than made up for the cold and blustery weather as Elwood hung on for an 8-7 win over Alexandria to earn a trip to the Madison County Softball Tournament finals.
It was a game that featured two solid hitting ballclubs, but pitching dominated the first 3½ innings.
Elwood starter Kelsey Hughes walked Alexandria leadoff hitter Jamie Dircks and hit Natalee Beeman in the first inning, but the Tigers could not score. Alex starter Mariah Cook held Elwood to one run through the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth.
Hughes hit a one-out single, one of four hits for Elwood in the inning, as the Panthers plated three runs to answer Alex’s run in the top of the inning and take a 4-1 lead.
Alex responded with a three-run fifth inning to tie the game as Natalee Beeman cracked a two-run homer after Dircks was hit by a pitch.
Carlee Wihebrink hit a single to left, and Taylor Jennings knocked in the tying run.
The Panthers went into the bottom of the sixth with a one-run lead and the top of the order coming to the plate.
Kaitlyn Leisure laced a double down the left-field line, and Jessie Noone followed with a double to center, scoring Leisure. Jessica Taylor drove Noone home with a single for an 8-5 lead.
Those two runs proved to be crucial as Alex put its first two batters on base in the top of the seventh. With runners on second and third and no outs, Wihebrink lined the ball to center. Noone made a diving catch to pick up a big out and save her team a run.
“It was an awesome catch” Elwood coach Chris Noone said. “Does it save the game? I don’t know, but it was a great catch.”
Stacy Farmer scored the seventh run on a throwing error, but Shelby Farmer struck out and Hailee Beeson lined out to second to finish off the game.
Noone said the final inning was a good sign for the Panthers.
“That’s one thing we did not do well last year, we did not finish games” he said.
The insurance runs and key defensive plays came with the game on the line, and the reward is their first-ever trip to the county tournament finals.
“It was a big win, we want to win championships,” said Noone. “That’s the attitude we want to have.”
Hughes picked up the win for Elwood (2-0) while Cook took the loss for Alex (5-3).
Alex coach Jim King was unavailable for comment.