BENTON – It took a little longer than usual, but the Fairfield softball team eventually got the result it was looking for.
Whitko played host the Falcons on Tuesday night and after a 65-minute lightning delay interrupted the game in the fifth inning, Fairfield claimed a 4-0 victory in an IHSAA Sectional 21 quarterfinal game at Fairfield High School.
The Falcons came into the game ranked No. 10 in the ICGSA 3A polls, but the ranking did not intimidate the Wildcats. Whitko put up a fight against Fairfield but it ultimately came down to a lack of success at the plate that cost the Wildcats the upset victory.
“We knew it was going to take a very good effort here tonight,” stated Whitko head coach Brad Clark. “Offensively, I just didn’t see a lot of the things that I wanted to see. She (Danica Mast) is a good pitcher, she’s going to make you hit the ball and we needed to do better at that.”
Mast did pitch a great game for the Falcons. Even after the long delay, Mast was able to come in and shut down the Whitko offense with confidence in the circle and solid pitch placement. Mast went the first two innings without any run support, but her team finally came through for her in the third.
Lairen Miller batted home Alexis Zook to put Fairfield up 1-0. Miller later scored on a fielding error by the Wildcats to give the Falcons a 2-0 advantage.
Whitko’s offense continued to sputter after Fairfield took the lead. The Wildcats did manage to five hits and nine total base runners, but the presence in the circle by Mast was too much for Whitko. Mast finished her night walking just three batters, striking out two and pitching all seven, scoreless innings.
Whitko’s fab freshman Hannah Yohe was in the circle to take on the hard-swinging Falcon lineup. Four runs were plated in Yohe’s seven innings of work, but just one would be earned by the freshman. Yohe walked three and struck out five in the loss for the Wildcats.
Haley Yohe picked up one of Whitko’s five hits and was 1-3 on the night. Yohe joined Aly Nicoedemus, Kennedy Krull, Christina Baughman and Whitney Marsh as the only Wildcats to record a hit on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats defense did its job more often than not but Fairfield was still able to manufacture two more runs. Miller again brought Zook home, putting Whitko in a 3-0 hole in the fifth inning. In the top of the seventh the most significant run of the game, historically speaking, crossed the plate for the Falcons.
Fairfield’s sensational sophomore, DJ Martz recorded a sacrifice fly RBI, scoring Erin Carlos to put Fairfield up 4-0. The run was just insurance for Tuesday’s game, but the RBI was record-breaking for Martz as it was number 41 for the young catcher, setting a new school record for RBIs in a season.[*** ERROR: Weaver X-Plus Shortcoder undefined id: 'spo-photo' *** ]
Martz, Mast and the rest of the Fairfield defense once again left Whitko with a zero on the board in the bottom of the seventh, securing the Falcons a spot in Wednesday’s sectional semifinal against Wawasee.
Wednesday’s game will be the second meeting between Wawasee and Fairfield. The Falcons won the first game 7-1 early in the season, but Fairfield head coach John Skibbe expects a tougher game this time around.
“We did just enough to win tonight,” Skibbe remarked. “That’s what you have to do at this point. This was not the prettiest game we’ve ever played but we won and now we get to go against a great team tomorrow night.
“Wawasee is the one team you look at in this sectional as probably the only real quality opponent. We’re looking forward to the challenge. Last time we played them it close to 32-degrees out and they left around 10 runners on base, so we expect to see a much different game this time around. Again, we’re looking forward to it, Wawasee is who we want to play.”
Wawasee (18-10) and Fairfield (21-6) will get things going after the conclusion of Wednesday’s first semifinal between Lakeland and NorthWood which will start at 5 p.m.