Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

May 23, 2012

PREP SOFTBALL SECTIONALS: On to the finals

Northridge, Elkhart Central will meet Friday night

ELKHART — Northridge and Elkhart Central are not that far apart from each other, but when the two local high schools clash in the Class 4A softball sectional championship Friday night at Elkhart Memorial it will be the first meeting between the two during the last two seasons.

The No. 4 ranked Northridge Raiders scored four runs over the opening two innings on the way to a 6-1 win over the Warsaw Tigers in the first semifinal contest Wednesday night. The Central Blue Blazers had an early lead before having to rally with two runs in the top of the seventh in a 5-4 victory over the Goshen Redskins.

The championship is slated to begin at 7 p.m.

“Our games with Northridge have been rained out the last two seasons and we have not been able to come up with a date to reschedule,” Central coach Todd King said. “Northridge is a tough team, but we are looking forward to playing them.”

Northridge got three runs in the first innings thanks to a run-scoring single by senior Caity Pixley and a two-run single by classmate Brittany Wingard. The Raiders added another run in the second an RBI single by junior Madison Schrock.

“We stayed aggressive at the plate until we got up by four runs,” Northridge coach Bo O’Dell said. “We had opportunities to score more runs but we didn’t. That is not the kind of thing you want to do especially against a team like Warsaw that has two all-state players.”

O’Dell was speaking about Warsaw senior catcher Kelsey Dotson and senior shortstop Kendra Marshall. Dotson has slugged 12 home runs this season and Marshall 11.

Northridge’s sophomore pitcher Haley Nixon limited the pair to three singles (two by Dotson) in six official at-bats.

“Haley can still do better,” O’Dell said. “She did not adjust very well to the umpire’s strike zone. She had a difficult time finding the corner.”

Warsaw senior Cari O’Hara was the starting pitcher for the Tigers. She pitched two innings before freshman Taylor Stiver took over.

“You have to understand O’Hara began the season with no varsity pitching experience and ended up winning a school record 15 games on a team the won 19,” Warsaw coach Jim Speicher said. “If you had told me before the game started we would be in some of the situations were we in I would have taken them.

“Nixon is one of the best underclassmen pitchers in the area. We hit some balls that were right at Northridge defenders and that helped her out. Nixon threw good pitches when she needed too.”

The Tigers made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh. After scoring one run, Warsaw had runners on first and third with the powerful Dotson at the plate and Marshall in the on-deck circle. Dotson hit a rocket at sure handed Raider third baseman junior Haley Schrock who started a game ending 5-4-3 double play.

“I always say any time you can turn a double play in softball it’s a bonus,” O’Dell said.

Northridge turned two twin killings in the game and the Tigers also had two.

Northridge senior Brittany Wingard paced the offense with a two-run single in the first and an RBI single in the sixth.

Wingard appeared to be bothered by some kind of a leg injury when running to first.

“This is why we have trainers to get players ready for games,” O’Dell said.

In the nightcap, Central held a 3-0 lead until Goshen took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Emily Mullet had a double, sophomore Jessica DeStefano an RBI single, junior Morgan Vanover a bases-loaded walk and sophomore Alex Prater a run-scoring single for the Redskins in the frame.

The Redskin lead didn’t last long as the Blue Blazers regained the lead with two runs in the top of the seventh.

“We have improved a lot during the season,” Goshen coach Cassi McCormack said. “We lost to Central 9-1 when we played them during the season and we had a bunch of errors. I’m so proud of the girls and how they played tonight. We battled back and in the sixth and seventh innings we got lead-off singles from a captain (junior Kaylee Shepherd). That shows why the girls voted her one of the captains.”

“Goshen has come a long way since we played them during the season,” King said. “We were not over confident. Goshen just came ready to play. We found a way to win by getting some clutch hits.”

The lose means the end of her prep career for Goshen’s lone senior Mckenzie Byler.

“All coaches say this about their seniors, but Mckenzie is going to be very hard to replace,” McCormack said. “She brings a great attitude to the field.”

Goshen finishes 8-21.

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