The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The Riverfield All-Stars rolled to a second straight victory at the Little League Softball state tournament on Saturday in Lebanon.
But the local team's semifinal fate no longer is entirely in its hands.
Riverfield blasted Bedford 13-3 in its third game of pool play, improving its tournament record to 2-1 and remaining as one of six teams still alive for a berth in the four-team single-elimination tournament that will determine the state champion.
Lebanon, South Bend Southeast and Zionsville have the upper hand with 3-0 records, and Riverfield is tied with Fort Wayne Don Ayres and New Albany one game back.
Riverfield finishes pool play against New Albany in what amounts to an elimination game Monday at 5 p.m. But even the winner of that contest might be left out of the semifinals.
"I keep telling (the players) all we can control is what we can control," Riverfield coach Seth Kelley said. "That's going out and trying to win."
Riverfield's cause will be aided a bit by the fact that Lebanon and Zionsville are scheduled to meet in their final pool play contest. That means one of those teams will fall to 3-1.
But a Fort Wayne victory on Monday could create a three-team tie for the final two playoff spots, and the tiebreaker in that scenario depends on runs allowed per inning played.
Zionsville currently has the lead in that category, and Riverfield and Fort Wayne are in a dead heat.
Riverfield found itself in a similar situation last year at the Little League Softball World Series, scoring five runs in the ninth-inning to beat Mexico 7-2 and win a tiebreaker for a spot in the semifinals.
This year's team has shown similar resiliency, bouncing back from a 9-7 loss against South Bend Southeast to outscore its next two opponents by a combined 27-3.
"We can't worry about everyone else," Kelley said about the team's approach to the final round of pool play. "We still have to go play softball."
That's especially true in light of the next opponent. New Albany's only loss also came against South Bend Southeast, and it has proven capable of putting a lot of runs on the scoreboard.
"We're going to have our work cut out for us," Kelley said. "All we can do is just win the game and see what happens from there."
The draw did Riverfield no favors, with its first matchup coming against a team of South Bend Southeast's caliber after nearly a month off. And it appears the defending state and region champions were thrown into the more difficult of the two pools.
But that's the nature of Little League postseason play, according to Kelley. He's not going to make excuses or waste time feeling sorry for his team.
All he asks is that his players give it their all for at least one more game. Then they'll let the chips fall where they may.
"If somehow it ends without us getting into the semifinals and we go 3-1," Kelley said, "I not going to be disappointed."