UNION MILLS – South Central head softball coach Terry Wallace liked the analogy one of the local writers used to describe his team’s 11-2 regional championship over Triton Tuesday night.
“I like the way you put that,” laughed Wallace of his team’s sudden outburst of runs as ‘the floodgates opening’.
Fitting as the teams battled in an on-again, off-again rain storm, South Central used a six-run third and four-run sixth to bury Triton in a Class 1-A regional rematch.
“I thought we did a good job responding,” Wallace said. “We cracked a little bit in the first inning, but as we settled into the game, the girls kept their composure, they played with confidence and they made history.”
Triton opened the top of the first with a pair of RBI doubles from Kayla Kreft and Nicole Sechrist, stunning the home-sided Satellites for a quick 2-0 lead.
But what looked so promising for Triton turned into rust.
Triton would only get one more hit the rest of the evening off starter Savanah Becker, who settled in nicely to shut down the Trojans for the second year in a row. Becker threw a magnificent game at Triton in the 2015 regional, and after a rocky first inning, Sechrist’s single in the sixth and two fielding errors were all the visitors would get following three hits in the first inning. Taytum Hargrave opened the game with an infield single and scored on Kreft’s double.
Becker gave up just four hits, no walks and struck out four to send her team to the semi-state for just the third time in South Central’s 22-year softball history.
“We knew their pitcher would keep the ball in the strike zone and we were going to have to generate some runs,” said Triton head coach Steve McBride. “The last several weeks, we had been throwing strikes and fielding the ball. We didn’t do that tonight. You get to this stage, you gotta play well on defense and we didn’t play well. They took advantage, and they are a good team.
“Teams that usually get to the regional level, you can’t play poorly and we played poorly and it came back to bite us.”
South Central got on the board in the first when Mikayla Rosenbaum reached on a bunt single, bringing home a run. The bang-bang, two-out play at first went South Central’s way, and quickly shifted momentum.
The Satellites left two runners in scoring position in the second, then poured it on in the third. Rosenbaum got another bunt down that caused a throwing error, bringing in the tying run. Breana Brewer cracked a two-run single, Heidi Smith added an RBI double and Becker helped her cause with a two-run single, pushing the score to 7-2.
Makenna Lebo added a two-run single in the sixth and Riley Popplewell added an RBI stroke to finish up the damage.
Triton hurler Courtney Jennings was on the hook for all 11 runs, walking two and allowing 14 hits.
Triton, which beat South Central in the 2014 regional, finished up its campaign 16-12. South Central (21-5), which was the only home team in the 1-A north regional bracket to win Tuesday, will meet Tri in the first game of the Frontier Semi-state this Saturday. Tri beat WesDel 11-4. On the other half of the regional draw, Pioneer beat Morgan Township 9-2 and Frontier sealed up at least one more game at home, winning at Rockville 8-3.