UNION MILLS – Small ball helped the Triton softball team post the biggest win in program history Tuesday night.
It didn’t hurt to have one big swing from star Mallorie Jennings either.
The No. 10 Trojans got the pitch and the pop from Jennings to blank No. 5 and host South Central 4-0 in a Class 1-A regional.
Senior standout Jennings fired a three-hitter in the circle and slugged a two-run home run for good measure as the Trojans made history in impressive fashion.
Junior Hannah Jennings came up clutch by driving in a pair of runs as the Trojans claimed the first regional championship in school history.
Sophomore sparkplug Zoee Stephan had a big night from the bottom of the order to help put her team over the top.
Triton, which also set a program record with its 23rd win of the season, advances to play No. 1 North Miami (16-3) Saturday in the Clinton Prairie Semistate.
The semi state action begins at 11 a.m. with Carroll (21-9) versus Tri-Central (7-7) at 11 a.m. in the first semifinal. Triton (23-6) then faces North Miami. The winners meet at 7 p.m. Saturday to play for a spot in the Class 1-A state championship game on June 14 at 10:30 a.m. at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.
North Miami, which features star junior pitcher Josie Wood, who has committed to Indiana University, routed Kouts 16-2 in regional play Tuesday night.
The Trojans, who lost in the regional a year ago to eventual state champion Lakewood Park Christian 9-0, left no doubt who was the better team Tuesday night.
Triton ended the title game with an exclamation point as right fielder Lexee Lemler fired a perfect strike to the plate for a gorgeous 9-2 double play to end the contest.
“It’s so crazy and just unbelievable,” said Mallorie Jennings, the record-setting hurler. “This is a great team accomplishment. I couldn’t ask for a better team behind me.
“My goal was for us to get one run. I was then going to do everything I could to keep them from scoring. I knew I had my defense behind me. I kept telling the girls it was still 0-0.
“I was just thinking base hit on the home run. I had hit a couple of fly balls earlier. It felt good when I hit it. It was my first home run of the season. I guess I saved it for the right time.”
The right time indeed as Jennings’ shot over the left field fence with one out capped a three-run final frame that pushed the lead from a precarious 1-0 edge to 4-0.
Hannah Jennings also was a hero and came up huge for the champions. The junior center fielder smacked a sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it 1-0. She then added another run to the scoreboard in the seventh with an RBI infield single to make it 2-0. Jennings first RBI came after Lauren Hostrawser hustled to reach to open the inning on a South Central error on a slow roller to third and Zooe Stephan and Lexee Lemler then put down excellent, clutch bunts that were mishandled to load the bases with no outs.
“There were so many thoughts going through my head,” said Hannah Jennings of batting with the bases loaded and no outs in a scoreless game. “It was just great to come through. This means the World to us.
“We were motivated greatly by last year (getting to the regional and losing). We knew with everyone coming back that we had a chance to be back here.”
Triton had seven hits in the win, including a key leadoff bunt for one by Stephan to start the pivotal three-run uprising in the seventh inning.
Mallorie Jennings, who had six strikeouts and no walks in the circle, had two hits and senior Allyson Brown a pair of infield singles for the Trojans. Both Jennings and catcher Brown will play at Manchester College.
“It was key for us to get that first run tonight,” said Triton coach Steve McBride. “I did think it could be a 1-0 game and that we could win that way. Mallorie then hit a big home run. All our runs were big.
“Small ball is typically not our game, but we got the bunts tonight and they could not handle them. I thought that Zoee had an excellent game for us. She did a lot of things at No. 9 in the order that we needed. Lauren also had a good game. She’s been injured, but she put the ball in play at key times.
“South Central is a good team. They were No. 5. I think who we played this season prepped us for this game. This is new territory for us now going to semi state. We have to find a way to score on Wood. She’s tough. They beat us 3-0 earlier this season, but we did not throw Mallorie.
“Mallorie is a pitcher. She’s just been solid of us and gotten better all year. She’s got great spin on the ball. She’s like a Greg Maddux. She’s a pitcher out there.”
Madi Walter, one of four seniors, took the pitching loss for the Satellites. She struck out eight and walked one in the complete game effort.
South Central, which did not have a hit off Jennings until a single by Savannah Salyer to lead off the fourth inning, finishes at 17-7.