Times Sports Editor
SPENCER -- The Northview softball team had to battle to the end for it, but Friday night they came home as Western Indiana Conference champions, completing a unbeaten conference record with a 6-2 win at Owen Valley.
"It's been two years, I think 2009 was our last time (to win the WIC)," Northview coach Bethany Jones said. "To win it outright is always kind of nice. These seniors really deserve it and I'm glad they were able to get it done."
The Patriots, despite a 6-11 overall mark heading into the game, weren't going to let the Knights walk away with an easy victory however as Owen Valley took a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
"I think (Owen Valley) knew what this game meant to us and they are always scrappy," Jones said. "Owen Valley came out with a lot of heart and determination and believed they could beat us. We came out and were just going through the motions, even in the first inning. It's difficult being in this situation, but these girls have got to want it."
The Patriots' pitcher, Macie Jones, had plenty of control issues, giving up six walks and a handful of wild pitches, but kept Northview from capitalizing by holding the Knights to just one hit over the first four innings.
"The slower pitching is giving us problems," Jones said. "The ball comes in looking like a watermelon and the girls get great big eyes and think they are going to smash it, but they pull off of it and pop it up. It took us twice through the lineup to get the timing down and we can't have that. Once should be enough to get the pitcher's timing down."
Northview couldn't get the big hit they needed early on as a pair of walks and a hit batter was wasted without a run scoring base hit as Jones escaped any damage.
The Knights broke through with the tying run in the third inning without the benefit of a hit as Alyssa Conrad reached on an error, Ashley Hughes walked and a fly out by Taylor Carter advanced the runners. A wild pitch nearly scored the first run but Patriots' catcher Michaela Morgan retrieved the ball and tagged out a sliding Conrad at the plate. However, the second wild pitch did score a run as Hughes tied the game.
Sarah Phillips was tough on the mound for the Knights, allowing just a soft single on the rightfield line in the first inning through the first five innings.
Kylie McKee served a single into leftfield and moved to second on another wild pitch. Lauren Webster reached on an error as her grounder to shortstop was mishandled. Sam Montague then hit a sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run. A second error allowed Conrad to reach base and a wild pitch brought Webster home for a 3-1 Knights' lead.
Things got tight for Northview in the sixth inning as a lead off single by Alissa Heaslet and a sharp single off the pitching rubber by Mack Evans set up Allisa Polley with an RBI groundout.
With the lead down to 3-2, Phillips was able to get Michaela Morgan to flyout to end the threat.
Northview played add on for their pitcher in the seventh inning as Hughes drew a one-out walk and Carter laced a single to centerfield to extend a 15-game hitting streak. Jessica LaTourette followed with a run scoring double. Hope Torbert drove home pinchrunner, Kindra Cox and an error on a ball hit by Phillips brought another run home for a 6-2 lead.
The Knights went to Carter to close out the game in the bottom of the seventh inning and she struckout the side to clinch the WIC title.
"Sarah pitched a heck of a game for us," Jones said of Phillips. "She's really been pitching hard and changing her speeds. Taylor (Carter) did a good job of closing it for us."
Phillips went six innings, allowed just three hits, struck out seven while walking three as Northview improved to 16-3 overall.
The Knights face Turkey Run this afternoon with the JV game slated for 10 a.m. followed by a ceremony honoring the 1995 state runner-up softball team. The varsity game will follow.
At Owen Valley
2B -- Nv (LaTourette). SB -- Nv (Conrad, Nelson).