Step one: completed.
After a sectional that went perfectly to form, the Pendleton Heights softball team now returns to regional competition for the second consecutive season.
The Lady Arabians (26-5) knocked off rival Highland for the third time in the championship game last Saturday night, but this time proved to be less difficult than the others. Due in large part to a second inning that produced six runs, PH won 11-1 in five innings.
“I think it was just confidence,” Arabians head coach Scott Hall said. “We knew they were going to have to come out and do things a little bit different, but we knew what we did before worked. We weren’t going to go away from our game plan unless they made us adjust.”
Tiffany Held stepped up and proved why she is hitting in the lineup’s No. 4 hole by delivering three hits including a home run, triple, and six RBIs. The Scots were forced to pitch to her because they had to go around Erin Falkenberry who also went deep for the second consecutive game.
Lindsey Beisser pitched the complete game win for the Arabians while allowing only one run on three hits.
“Tiff’s just done a great job all year,” Hall said. “I was kind of surprised they pitched to her in that first inning, but with nobody on the worst thing she could do was hit a home run. She just faces big pressure situations hitting behind Erin when they always try to dodge her, and she has to step up.”
PH defeated Anderson 13-2 and Greenfield-Central 5-0 earlier in the week to advance to the title game. Beisser pitched both wins with an extra day of rest in between the semis and the final due to rain.
“It gave her a little bit more rest, but we were also able to get a little batting practice in,” Hall said. “We got to see quite a bit of live pitching the day before the game and got out and did an hour or hour and a half of batting practice before the game. I think that helped.”
The next stop is West Lafayette on Saturday where the Arabians will play Fort Wayne Snider (24-4-1) at 11 a.m. with the winner advancing on to the 7 p.m. championship game.
Snider is unranked but received five votes in the latest AP poll. It advanced to the regional by defeating Carroll 10-2, East Noble 10-0, and DeKalb 4-0 in its own sectional.
“We’re going to have to fight really hard because we’re going to face a lot better teams,” Beisser said. “I think we can beat any team if we all play well.”
The Panthers split games with No. 10 Hamilton Southeastern during the regular season, 4-14 and 7-3. PH lost 4-0 to the Royals during a short losing streak earlier in the year.
Snider pitcher, Amy Blackstone, also bats fourth in the order and hits nearly .400 at the plate. In the two meetings with Southeastern she pitched all 12 innings, struck out 14, and went 1-for-5 from the plate.
If the Arabians were to advance they would face a potential matchup with No. 2 McCutcheon in the regional final.
However, Hall cares little about the opponent and more on his own team.
“These girls have just played in so many big games,” he said. “This is it, it’s win or go home. Our schedule really sets us up to play big game after big game so in a way this is our comfort zone. What else do you want?”
Step one: completed.