BENTON – If ever there was a signal flare in high school softball, Wawasee fired 13 of them in the air Monday afternoon.
In what has been a typically one-sided matchup in recent years, Wawasee put the screws to Fairfield, 13-2, in a softball matchup of the top two teams from last year’s Class 3-A sectional. For a senior class that was just 1-5 against Fairfield in regular season and sectional games coming into the night, putting the pedal to the metal was about the only way to prove its point.
The game had all the makings in the first inning, both teams pushing across a run. Ale Brito made things happen in the second for Wawasee, singling home Aubrey Kuhn to take the lead then coming around to score on a Kayla White single to center. At 3-1, Wawasee looked like it was primed to pull away, then did just that an inning later.
A two-run single by Faith Swihart highlighted a six-run frame for the Lady Warriors. The six-run inning was just what Wawasee head coach Mike Barger wanted, knowing his club was pretty hungry to seek a little redemption after Wawasee was knocked out by Fairfield, 1-0, in last year’s state tournament.
“It was to them,” remarked Barger on his team exacting some revenge on Fairfield, which made it to the semi-state last season. “I think it was still in the back of their minds from last year. I think where they want to go, they know they are going to have to go through this if they want to get where they want to go. I think they are making a statement that they are not going to back down. We are going to go right at you.”
Meghan Fretz added an RBI double an inning later, part of her three-hit day that had all three connections ring as loud as any bats did all afternoon. Fretz also was very sound in the circle, going all five innings, striking out eight and looking stronger as the game went on. Fairfield managed just five hits on the day, only putting more than one runner on base in the two innings it scored, the first and fifth.
“I think we’ve played them the last two years some really tough games in the sectional,” said Fairfield head coach John Skibbe. “They’ve got their nucleus back and they’ve got one of the top pitchers in the area (Fretz). We know we have some challenges that we have to accomplish. We have some areas still to figure out. We are in the mode where we still don’t know personnel on where we are at. We had 15 or 16 kids bat tonight.
“We’re still trying to get our identity as a team. Until we do that, we are going to lose some games like this.”
Brito and Hannah Haines each had two hits and two runs scored for the Lady Warriors (4-0), playing its first game since March 28. GraceAnne Kerlin added three RBIs.
Julia Brown had two hits and a run scored to lead the Falcons (1-2), which had pitcher Kinsey Miller tagged for 11 hits and 12 earned runs.
“This morning we had practice at 6:30 a.m. and I told them I did not want to come over here and make this a close game,” Barger said. “We come in and make a statement that we are here at the top of the level of everybody else. You want to be here and put your name out here that you guys are good, then you guys better make statements to them. Get off the bus and get ready to go from day one.
“I thought we got off to a little better start, defensively we didn’t, but offensively we started to pick it up.”
Wawasee will take on Columbia City Tuesday night.