SYRACUSE – A frustrating week of games ended on a positive note for the Wawasee softball team Saturday afternoon. The Lady Warriors, regional qualifiers in Class 3-A, welcomed in Triton, a defending regional champion from Class 1-A, for what would prove to be a sloppy game on both sides. Five errors between the two squads played a big part in producing a 5-4 final score in favor of Wawasee when all was said and done.
“We’ve had a rough week of softball, we’ve had a lot of close games. It’s nice to come out on top in this one,” Wawasee head coach Jared Knipper began. “We just don’t feel like we’re playing our best softball right now, we lost two close games earlier this week. We know we can play a lot better than we’ve shown. But, to get the ‘W’ after a game where you don’t feel like you dominated, that’s a nice feeling.”
It was Triton that showed its strength early on as the Lady Trojans put up two runs on Wawasee, thanks to RBIs from Courtney Jennings and Nicole Secrist. Wawasee added a run in the bottom half of the inning as Cristina DeLaFuente crossed the plate. Triton’s 2-1 lead would until the fifth inning.
The Lady Warriors finally caught some breaks in that fifth frame. Freshmen Courtney Jennings, pitcher, and Taytum Hargrave, center fielder, gave the Lady Warriors fits through through the first four innings on defense. Jennings gave Wawasee little to hit, and when the Lady Warriors did get a piece of one it seemed that Hargrave made an athletic play in center to halt the home team every time.
Danielle Gunkel finally got the Warriors over the hump with one swing of the bat. With one on and one out, Gunkel drove a ball to center field to a hustling Hargrave. A leaping attempt by the freshman nearly stole Wawasee’s thunder once again but the ball slipped out of the glove of an outstretched Hargrave, sending Gunkel to second and DeLaFuente to third.
Wawasee’s lone senior, Paige Hlutke, used the ensuing at-bat to drive home both runners on a double, giving the Lady Warriors their first lead 3-2. Ale Brito scored in a courtesy runner role for Hlutke on an Amber Lemberg hit two outs later. A run by Allissa Flores on an error would prove to be the winning run for Wawasee.
Triton picked up two runs in the sixth inning thanks, in part, to an error by Wawasee but Lemberg and Wawasee would hold off the Lady Trojans in the seventh to clinch the victory.
“I was happy with the effort,” said Triton head coach Steve McBride. “Wawasee is one of those quality teams that you can’t make mistakes against because they will make you pay. But, we played well against them and we played well the other night against a good Goshen team. We have done well against quality opponents. No we get ready for the conference schedule and I think we have a lot of confidence going into that right now.”
Kayla Kreft and Courtney Jennings were each 2-3 at the plate for Triton (2-3). Jennings, Sechrist and Lauren Hostrawser all had one RBI each for the Lady Trojans. Jennings pitched six innings in the loss.
Wawasee (5-2) was led at the plate by Madi Wilson who was 2-2 with a walk. Gunkel, DeLaFuente and Hlutke all had two hits each as well for the Warriors. Lemberg picked up the win in relief for Wawasee and recorded two strikeouts. Starting pitcher Meghan Fretz recorded two strikeouts in one inning of work before leaving the game with soreness in her knee.
Wawasee will travel to Warsaw on Monday. Triton will travel to Knox.