By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
WARSAW — Elkhart Central and Northridge both won their games Monday night in the Class 4A high school girls softball sectional at Warsaw.
Junior Brittany Vanderhoek singled three times and drove in a run for the Elkhart Central Blue Blazers in an 8-2 win over the Goshen Redskins in the first game. Junior Hannah Kistler doubled in two runs and junior Haley Nixon was the winning pitcher for the Northridge Raiders in a 7-2 win over the Elkhart Memorial Crimson Chargers in the nightcap.
“It’s hard to play a team for the third time,” Northridge coach Bo O’Dell said about facing another member of the NLC. “By that time the other team knows what Haley (Nixon) throws and how we are going to defend them.”
The two teams played last week and the Raiders were 16-1 winners.
“We knew Memorial would be more competitive,” O’Dell said. “We knew they would rise to the challenge.
“Considering all that I’m happy with the score tonight.”
The tournament continues on Wednesday with Central facing Northridge at 6 p.m. while Concord and Warsaw follow around 8.
The championship is slated for Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Junior Gretchen Hurtle pitched for Memorial. She struck out Northridge senior Madison Schrock to start the game and that is something no other pitcher had done all season to the veteran Raider. Hurtle also fanned Schrock in the third before Schrock slapped an RBI single in the fifth.
The Raiders scored two in the first as freshman Bailey O’Dell and senior Haley Schrock singled and scored on Kistler’s double.
Nixon struck out seven and walked one.
“Haley left some pitches out there,” O’Dell said. “That is the way the game goes. When we jump out to early leads we have to have everyone keep their focus. We need to make the plays at the end of the game.”
Two of the hardest hits balls by the Chargers came in the sixth inning. Senior Kara Summers ripped a double over the center fielder’s head and two outs later she scored on a double by sophomore Gabby Weaver.
Central had chances early on as freshman Redskin hurler Lexi Vanover worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the first inning.
The Blue Blazers scored twice in the second inning, added two more in the fourth and broke it open with three in the seventh.
“Lexi did a good job,” Goshen coach Cassi McCormack said. “She’s only a freshman.”
Central’s junior hurler Cassie Shelton limited the Goshen offense to eight hits.
“Cassie mixed her pitches well,” Central coach Todd King said. “Her change-up was working and that helped her keep the Goshen batters off balance.”
“We have not faced that kind of speed in our last couple of games,” McCormack said. “We struggled to hit the ball hard and we struggled to hit the ball in key situations.”
Senior Emily Mullet paced the Redskin offense with a pair of doubles and a single. She scored one of Goshen’s runs in the third when she doubled and came home on a single by senior Lacee Mulcahey. Mullet’s second double came in the seventh and scored junior Brittany Jones who had doubled early in the frame.
Sophomore Brooke Miller singled in the fifth and seventh innings for the Redskins.
Junior Jazzmin Hoelyfield had a double, single and two RBI and junior Allison Valentjin a run-scoring single for Central.
“We got the clutch hits when we needed them,” King said. “It was a good team effort. We are glad to keep playing. Goshen has a good young team.”
Central 020 210 3 — 8-10-1
Goshen 001 000 1 — 2-8-1
Pitching: (Central) Cassie Shelton (W) seven strikeouts and no walks. (Goshen) Lexi Vanover (L) and Morgan Walker.
Hitting: (Central) Jazzmin Hoelyfield double, single, two RBI; Brittany Vanderhoek three singles, RBI; Allison Valentjin single, RBI; Isabela Zepeda two singles. (Goshen) Emily Mullett two doubles, single, RBI; Brittany Jones double, Lacee Mulcahey single, RBI; Brooke Miller two singles, Kaylee Shepherd single,
Northridge 201 220 0 —7-11-0
Memorial 100 001 0 — 2-6-4
Pitching: (Northridge) Haley Nixon (W) seven strikeouts and one walk. (Memorial) Gretchen Hurtle (L) three strikeouts and three walks.
Hitting: (Northridge) Hannah Kistler double, two RBI; Grace Grevengoed double, Brooke Maes two singles, Haley Nixon two singles, RBI; Brianne O’Dell two singles, RBI; Haley Schrock two singles, Madison Schrock single, RBI. (Memorial) Gabby Weaver double, single, RBI; Kara Summers double.