BOURBON — There’s a saying in baseball and softball that the third out is often the hardest to get.
Three nights after battling with nine two-out runs to upset No. 5 Westville in their Class A Softball Sectional 51 opener Tuesday, the Lady Trojans experienced the flip side of that fact.
South Central cranked out five straight two-out hits to score six runs in the top of the seventh, rallying past Triton 7-4 in the Triton Sectional championship game in Bourbon Friday. After struggling with just four hits against Triton freshman Mallorie Jennings through six innings at the contest, the Lady Satellites put up seven hits in their fourth time around the order for the comeback championship win.
“We were calling different pitches, they were just hitting it,” said Triton head softball coach Steve McBride. “We really don’t have a lot of Plan B on this team so we went with our best. We made some mistakes in there, but… you’ve got to give South Central credit. There were two outs. We were there, we just couldn’t get that third out. They just had consecutive hit after consecutive hit. The other night was our night, and tonight was South Central’s night.”
Trailing 4-0 headed into the sixth, South Central scored a run on a single by winning pitcher Madisyn Walter and an infield error with two outs to cut Triton’s lead to 4-1. Walter got out of a bases-loaded jam without a run in the bottom of the inning, and the Satellites plated seven runs, all with two outs, in their final at-bat of the night in the seventh.
Katie Bekavac and Stephanie Balon cranked out a pair of one-out singles before Jennings struck Walter looking for the second out of the frame, but five straight hits from Taylor Dye, Kayla Pritchard, Alex Snyder, Cali Young and Samantha Jackson — including consecutive doubles from Young and Jackson — plated seven runs before Jennings struck out Brittany Wright in her second time through the order in the seventh to retire the side.
“It was difficult for us to get our timing down with (Jennings),” said South Central head coach Richard Patterson. “She came up in the first inning and struck out two of my players. They’ve got an excellent team…. We just finally got to her, and once we ignited then everybody seemed to get in on it.”
Triton struck first with four runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Senior centerfielder Sarah Stichter — who had a big night for Triton with two runs and an RBI — was hit by a pitch from Satellites starter Jessica Sturdy to lead off the fourth before stealing second, and fellow senior Shelby Steinman scored her with an RBI single — one of two hits by the first baseman at the game — to put the Trojans on the board first. Triton scratched out another three runs in the fifth when lead-off batter Lindsay Ganshorn reached on an infield error with two outs, and the top of the order put up four straight hits. Shortsop Hannah Downing drove in Ganshorn with her team’s only double of the night and was in turn driven home on a Stichter single, and Katie Claxon and Taylor Mellott recorded a pair of RBI singles to stretch the home team’s lead to 4-0.
Triton loaded the bags with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Walter fanned Claxon for the Trojans’ second out of the night, and freshman Sabrina Kaufman was caught going home hesitating on a two-out infield fly that was dropped at the first baseline.
“I don’t think that’s what did it. You can always wonder what if,” said McBride. “You know, if we get one more out in the seventh… but we didn’t and we couldn’t. They hit the ball pretty solid; there wasn’t anything cheap about them, so there’s your story of the game, South Central came up and strung some hits together.”
South Central improves to 18-11 and moves on to face the winner of the Lakewood Park Christian at Regional 27 next Tuesday.
Triton closes at an even 14-14, meanwhile, and bids goodbye to a deep class of nine seniors in Ganshorn, Steinman, Claxon, Downing, Mellott and Stichter as well as Aundrea Sellers, Jodie Lemler and Crystal Overmyer.
“We have nine seniors on this team,” said McBride. “They’re good kids, and we’re going to miss them. They’ve grown over the years, and we would’ve seen them go out with a championship, but it just didn’t happen. We had a lot of camaraderie in this team, and the seniors helped the younger kids out. I couldn’t ask any more than that.”
• SOUTH CENTRAL 7,
At Class A Triton Softball Sectional
South Central: 000 001 6 — 7 11 1
Triton: 000 130 0 — 4 10 2
Jessica Sturdy, Haley Bauer (4), Madisyn Walter (W) and Kaitlyn Tucker; Mallorie Jennings (L) and Katie Claxon.
2B: Hannah Downing (T), Cali Young (SC), Samantha Jackson (SC).
Records: South Central 18-11, Triton 14-14 (final).