WARSAW — Leading 7-0, Warsaw nearly gave away its sectional-opener with Elkhart Central Monday night. But the Lady Tigers plated four runs in the top of the eighth and held on for an 11-7 Sectional 4 victory at home.
They just like to keep their coach on his toes, joked Kevin Dishman after the extra-inning win.
“We got the job done. It took us awhile there, but we got it done,” said the head coach.
“That’s the type of team we are. We like to come from behind for some reason. I don’t know, just because they don’t want me to get comfortable at all.”
Warsaw advances to play Concord — a 13-8 winner over Goshen in Monday’s nightcap — in Wednesday’s early semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Northridge will play Elkhart Memorial in the bye game later Wednesday night to determine Friday’s championship match-up.
After three innings of stalemate softball Monday, the Tigers struck first with a pair of runs on a wild pitch and a throwing error from the catcher still recovering on the play in the top of the fourth. They scratched out five more runs during a big fifth inning off a pair of errors in right, a double by Hudson Bolinger and a three-bagger by nine-hole hitter Carmen Albertson, as well as base hits by Katie Anderson and Lindsey Bradley. Albertson’s second triple of the night in the sixth and a sac fly from Hailey Locke pushed the hosts out to a 7-0 advantage in the sixth.
“Carmen is a speedster down there. She puts the ball in the green, she’s looking for three every time,” said Dishman of Albertson.
But Central rallied with four runs in the sixth capitalizing on a pair of errors at short and a two-run home run from Evan Hobik. A three-run shot straight out to center from Shawna Faulk in the seventh knotted it up at 7-all and forced extra innings.
“We jumped out to a good lead, but they climbed back in it. Long balls will kill you. Home runs will kill you,” Dishman said.
Warsaw wasted little time getting back out front in the eighth as Locke drew a leadoff walk, Anderson singled into right, and Central opted to intentionally walk Bradley, who was 3-for-4 headed into the extra frame Monday. That brought up cleanup hitter Izzy Dittmar, who was due after an 0-for-4 performance over the first five innings, and she promptly drove an 0-1 offering from Riley DeHaven into right to score both Locke and Anderson. Bradley scored beating the throw home, and Dittmar reached second on the throw before Hobik replaced DeHaven in the circle. Tauren Tackett singled into right to score Dittmar, and the Tigers had all the offense they would ever need.
“Izzy hits the ball harder than anybody on the team. She flat out drills it. Last week she actually hit the pitcher right in the chin, and nobody saw the ball because it went so fast,” recalled Dishman. “Her exit velocity is really great so I knew that they were in trouble there. You load the bases up, and she’s up, you’re just asking for trouble there. And she did what she had to do. She got it in play, and something good happened.”
Brina Baer coaxed a leadoff walk from Courtney Chookie in the bottom of the eighth, but the Warsaw starter got a popup from DeHaven, and Dacia Chupp lined to Locke at first, who happily snagged the low liner, then stepped on first for the unassisted double play.
“That’s a good capper. We needed that,” said Dishman of the game-ending play. “That was important because that kind of lead, you still don’t know for sure. A line drive like that, and the mindset is to turn around and get the next out, get that double play. She’s a great first baseman. That was a good way to finish.”