Times Sports Editor
PLAINFIELD -- Beating a team three times in a season is especially difficult, but Terre Haute South got a power surge from senior, Macy Toon, and just enough key outs from sophomore pitcher, Marissa Stout, to defeat a scrappy Northview Knights' team, 5-4, to advance to tonight's sectional final.
The Braves will meet Terre Haute North, a 2-1 winner over Martinsville.
The Knights fell behind the proverbial eight-ball early on as Toon smacked a two-run home run in the first inning off Northview freshman pitcher, Taylor Carter. Toon would later give her team a 3-0 advantage when she added a solo shot in the third inning, ripping a one-out shot over the wall in leftfield.
However, the Knights, without a senior on their roster, proved to be a battling bunch that wouldn't quit despite Stout, allowing just a leadoff double by Alyssa Conrad in the third inning. The Braves would stand her on base as Stout got Raven Enders and Carter to flyout and then got Jessica LaTourette to pop out to end the threat.
Conrad was key in Northview's first rally as she came to the plate following a one-out walk by Nicole Nelson. Conrad, a sophomore, smashed a two-run home run of her own that bounced off the scoreboard in centerfield and the Knights suddenly had renewed life.
"We had some people step up there at the end with some big hits," Northview coach Bethany Jones said. "Alyssa Conrad got the ball out front and was able to drive it and get the two-run home run, so I'm just really proud of them for not giving up."
"We talked on the way here about taking care of the little things," Jones said. "We had a couple of balls in the outfield that should have been caught and those two runs should would have never scored."
With little room for error, Northview came back with a run in the sixth inning as Hope Torbert singled and Lauren Webster rocked an RBI double to bring her home to narrow the gap to 5-3.
In the bottom half of the inning, Carter faced the pressure of a leadoff walk to Rebecca Latta and a one-out double by Taylor Derickson that put both runners in scoring position. However, the Knights gained a big dose of confidence as Carter got a second out on a diving catch by third baseman, Kylie McKee on a bunt attempt. Carter then did the rest herself, striking out her nemesis, Toon, to end the inning.
At the plate for the final time, the Knights quickly got a rally mounted as Nelson reached via an infield single and Conrad worked Stout for a walk. Enders came to the plate and laid down a bunt that was briefly bobbled and the Knight's hustle allowed her to reach safely to load the bases with no outs.
Facing a two-run deficit, Carter got her team back within a run as she lofted a sacrifice fly to leftfield to bring home Nelson to get Northview back to 5-4.
However, it was Stout that stepped up and made the biggest pitches of her young varsity career.
The Brave was able to strikeout both LaTourette and Sarah Phillips to end the game and advance South to the championship game this evening at 6 p.m.
Despite the loss, Jones was proud of the fight her team displayed against the Braves.
"We made the adjustments tonight and we were resilient. We have nothing to hang our heads about," commented Jones. "We battled to the end and they never did give up.
"I say that we're young, we're not losing anybody, so that's what we've got to focus on right now. Looking forward, a lot of these teams are losing some star players and we've got a lot of talent coming back next year."
The Knights finish the season at 14-11 overall.
Class 4A Plainfield Sectional
2B -- Nv (Conrad, Webster). THS (Derickson, Stout). HR -- Nv (Conrad), THS (Toon 2).