Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- Northview's quest for its first softball sectional championship since the 1995 state runner-up team came up short under Terre Haute North's power surge on Friday night.
The Patriots hammered three solo homeruns in the sixth inning to overcome a 2-1 deficit and claim a 4-3 victory and repeat as sectional champions over the Knights.
The loss was especially frustrating for a Northview team that left the bases loaded three different times while stranding 12 runners on base.
"Everyone's (season) ends badly except for the one that wins (the state title)," Northview coach Bethany Jones said. "We left 12 on base, it may have been more than that. Three or four innings we left three (runners) on and a couple of those innings we had the bases loaded with less than two outs. They fought hard, but we just couldn't execute and get some runs across the plate."
North took a first inning lead after a walk to lead off hitter, Katelynn Herrick, a wild pitch and an RBI single by Jazmine Allen.
Northview loaded the bases in the first inning as Ashley Hughes reached on an error, Taylor Carter singled and Jessica LaTourette walked. However, Patriots' pitcher, Alisha Ludwig, struck out Hope Torbert and Sarah Phillips to escape.
The Knights did knot the game in the second inning as Kylie McKee and Nicole Nelson each walked and Alyssa Conrad hit an RBI single. Carter was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Ludwig got LaTourette to flyout to centerfield.
Ludwig danced around dangerous situations all night long, walking six and giving up eight hits, but Northview couldn't get the big hit to break open the game.
For awhile, the Knights didn't look as if they would need a big inning as Carter held North to just the lone first inning hit over the first five innings. Meanwhile, McKee came to the plate in the third inning and rocketed a two-out pitch from Ludwig into the trees beyond the rightfield fence to give Northview a 2-1 lead.
That lead stood through five innings thanks to the Knights' defense as Torbert reached past the centerfield fence to snag a flyball from Paige Collins that saved a tying home run.
The Knights were already familiar with North's powerful lineup after seeing the Patriots drill four long balls to beat Mooresville in the sectional opener.
In the sixth inning, Northview got a much too close look at the Patriots' home run prowess.
Carter retired Kaci McBride on a grounder to the pitcher for the first out, which brought Herrick to the plate.
Herrick responded by lining a homerun into the trees in centerfield to tie the game at 2-apiece. The North fans had barely taken their seats when the next batter, Hailee Travioli smacked another liner over the fence to put the Patriots ahead. After Carter retired Marlee Yeager, who had hit two home runs against the Pioneers, Allen hit her ninth homer of the season to push the lead to 4-2.
"I give credit to North, we saw what they did against Mooresville," Jones said. "We knew they had that in them. I give a lot of credit to them for bringing their bats."
In the bottom half of the inning the Knights again loaded the bases as Conrad hit a two-out double, Ashley Hughes bunted for a single and Carter was intentionally walked for the second time. Ludwig would once again work her way out of danger, retiring LaTourette on a flyout to end the inning.
The Knights had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh as Torbert lined a single to centerfield and Phillips reached via an error. A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position.
With McKee at the plate, she flew out to deep enough to score Torbert, who beat the throw home. However, McBride, the North catcher, threw out Phillips attempting to advance to third. Ludwig then retired Webster to secure the title.
The Knights end the season with a 20-7 mark overall and will graduate four players.
"This group of four seniors, Jess (LaTourette) has been starting since her freshman year. Lauren (Webster) and Nicole (Nelson) stepped in there and Ashlee (Ball) stepped in the last couple of years and they've improved greatly," Jones said of her graduating class. "They've improved not only in softball, but seen how their character has grown and they've grown up to be great young women."
Terre Haute North Sectional
2B -- Nv (Conrad, Nelson). HR -- Nv (McKee), THN (Herrick, Travioli, Allen). SB -- THN (Collins). IBB -- Nv (Carter 2 by Ludwig).
|Carter (L, 17-5)||7.0||4||5||1||7|
|Ludwig (W, 8-3)||7.0||3||8||6||3|