Another comeback, another sectional title for Lady Miners
VERNE – The second come-from-behind effort in as many nights culminated Wednesday evening in a second consecutive softball sectional championship for the Linton-Stockton Lady Miners.
As they had the previous night against North Knox the Lady Miners trailed heading into the fifth inning. Staring at a 3-2 deficit Linton-Stockton responded with five runs in the fifth overtaking the stunned Mitchell Lady Bluejackets. The 7-3 lead held up and the jubilant Lady Miners hoisted the sectional championship trophy once again, just as they had done one year ago at South Knox’s Win Energy Field.
Senior first baseman Maggie Booe summed it up best.
“Our motto all season was, ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,’” Booe said. “And these past two games we’ve played the best team ball we’ve played all year. These games started off rough but we finished strong and that was our goal all season.”
Coach Ruan Fougerousse called it another total team effort.
“We were down again – familiar territory,” she quipped. “They just stayed with it and did what they needed to do.”
The coach credited a different strategy with turning the game around. The Lady Miners attempted six bunts. All six were successful in one way or another.
“We played a little unconventional game for us laying bunts down,” Fougerousse explained. “And we actually put our bunts down. We’ve been working on that pretty hard. And honestly that was the difference in the game.”
The “small ball” game yielded two runs in the second frame. Mitchell had scored in the first on a walk, an error and a double steal.
Booe led off the Miner second with a soft liner for a base hit. Erica Barker laid down an attempted sacrifice bunt – and was safe on a throwing error.
Peyton Bland – a slugger with home-run power – also bunted, and hesitation on the part of the fielder allowed Barker to score.
The Lady Bluejackets regained the lead, 3-2 with two tallies in the third. Sierra Cox singled through the box and scored on Kara McCameron’s triple. McCameron beat the throw to the plate on Audrey Young’s grounder.
But confusion reigned for the Jackets in the Linton fifth. Indecision and errors contributed to the Lady Miners’ five-run frame.
Aubrey Walton drew a leadoff walk. Ashlyn Ferree and Brantli Lannan both laid down “sacrifice” bunts – and both reached safely on errors. Walton scurried home amid the catcher’s indecisiveness on Lannan’s bunt.
Hannah Frady punched a base hit through the hole between third and short driving in Ferree.
Fougerousse called Frady the team’s “silent leader.”
Frady doesn’t say a lot verbally, the coach said, “But she is definitely a leader on the field. Everybody looks up to her and loves to be around her. She just brings a lot to the team no doubt.”
Lannan got to third ahead of the throw on Booe’s ground ball, then alertly tagged up and sprinted home on an infield popup.
Sierra Flater lined a single to right plating Frady’s courtesy runner Abigail Brownfield. Booe slid home with Linton’s seventh run on Bland’s sac bunt.
Flater, the starting catcher for both sectional championship teams, played a bigger role this season.
“It’s amazing to be with all these guys last year and this year,” she said. “It’s just been a blessing to play with all of them. We’ve had a blast together and it means so much.”
Bland pitched her way out of a jam in the sixth. Singles by Young and Mattison O’Shields put runners at the corners for Mitchell with two outs. Bland induced a popup to end the inning, then retired the side in order in the seventh.
And pandemonium ensued for the back-to-back sectional champions.
“This means the world to me,” senior Alexis James said. “We’ve worked so hard all season to get this. And it’s the best feeling in the world to get this two years in a row.”
For Lannan it was the fifth sectional title of her high school career – three in volleyball, two in softball.
“They’re all special,” she said. “But I have to say this one is just a really great feeling right now.”
Frady endured the disappointment of losing to North Knox in the basketball sectional final in February. Tuesday’s win over North Knox – and Wednesday’s victory – helps alleviate some of the bad memories.
“I was disappointed when we lost to North Knox in basketball,” Frady said. “But when we beat them last night it felt so good to beat North Knox. And winning tonight is even better.
“And being a part of this team with these seniors – I’m going to miss them next year.”
The Class 2A Sectional 47 champion Lady Miners now await the winner of Sectional 48. Defending champion South Spencer faces Tecumseh in Thursday’s final.
Linton-Stockton will host the winner in a one-game regional Tuesday.
CLASS 2A SECTIONAL 47
At South Knox
LINTON-STOCKTON 7, MITCHELL 3
Mitchell 102 000 0 – 3 4 6
Linton-Stockton 020 050 x – 7 4 2
MITCHELL (14-12) – Kara McCameron (L) and Sierra Cox. Hitters: Cox 1-4; McCameron 1-2, 3B, RBI; Audrey Young 1-3, RBI; Mattison O' Shields 1-3.
LINTON-STOCKTON (15-11) – Hannah Frady, Peyton Bland (5, W) and Sierra Flater. Hitters: Frady 1-3, RBI; Maggie Booe 1-3; Erica Barker 1-3; Flater 1-3, RBI. SF: Barker. S: Bland.