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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kelsey Whitaker's home run lifts Eagles to county title

Monday, May 17, 2010

(Photo)
Members of the 2010 Putnam County Champion South Putnam softball team include Krystal Welch, Jenny Thompson, Brooke Boetjer, Kaylin Yon, Kelsey Whitaker, Emily Dabkowski, Megan Barnes, Brenly Bratcher, Jenna Jones, Nikki York, Janet Crafton, Mattie Varvel, Coach Chris Jones and Assistant Coach Lindsey Blackman. [Order this photo]
GREENCASTLE -- Heading into the seventh inning of Saturday's Putnam County Championship game, things looked grim for the South Putnam Eagles.

They trailed North Putnam 3-2 with the bottom part of their order coming to the plate.

Things didn't look bleak to Coach Chris Jones, though. He'd seen this movie before.

"I feel good -- if we have an at bat left, if we have an out left -- I honestly feel good about it," Jones said.

On April 26, the Eagles faced a 3-0 seventh-inning deficit on the Cougars' home field, only to come back for a 6-3 victory.

This time, it was the No. 8 hitter Kelsey Whitaker who was the hero. After Mattie Varvel reached on an error and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Janet Crafton, Whitaker crushed a high fastball from North pitcher Taylor Judy, sending it over the left field fence.

"Kelsey got her pitch and absolutely crushed it, which was great," Jones said.

The Eagles (22-1, 10-0 WCC) would tack on one more run as Jenny Thompson drove in Krystal Welch for a 5-3 victory.

"The girls' mentality and focus was up the whole time, which is a big improvement for us," Jones said. "It's huge, and we've had that, really, ever since we got that comeback up at North."

(Photo)
Kelsey Whitaker's game-winning 2-run homer off of Taylor Judy gave South Putnam a 4-3 lead on its way to a 5-3 victory. [Order this photo]
The coach thought the focus showed even more with how the girls kept playing after the Whitaker homer.

"The thing was, even after that, we were happy and excited, but then Krystal gets up and finds a way to get on. Emily (Dabkowski) finds a way to get on. And then we end up getting Krystal in with Jenny getting a hit," he said. "So to keep focusing was huge for us."

Across the diamond, things were understandable more somber, but Cougar Coach Jim Brothers still liked what he saw from his team (13-9, 7-5 WCC). They had played well in their 8-1 preliminary victory over Cloverdale and have now played South Putnam, the No. 3 team in Class 2A, very strong three times in recent weeks.

"I thought we did a good job. We played well," Brothers said. "We got one pitch up in the strike zone a little bit, and that was the difference. We got the ball in play, we had our chances, and it was a good ball game."

Having struck out 15 Clovers in the morning session, Judy looked like she might struggle early on against the Eagles. Welch led off the game with a double that hit the fence in the air. Thompson reached on a single, and then a Brooke Boetjer double plated them both.

Judy settled in, though, and her offense soon got in the act.

The pitcher led off the bottom of the first, but her courtesy runner was forced out on an Elsiana Crosby fielder's choice. Crosby, though, advanced on a Dakota Malayer single and scored on an Eagle error.

It could have been worse for South, though, as Carlye McGaughey sent what appeared to be a sure home run to left field in the first. Left fielder Whitaker, though, made her first of two great plays on the day, crashing into the fence while hauling in the long fly for the third out.

In the second, the Cougars' Kensy Asbell reached on a fielders' choice, followed by a Dakota Parent single. One runner scored on a Judy RBI single, while the other came home on a passed ball.

The Cougars led 3-2 after two innings.

While Eagle starter Mattie Varvel had a rough couple of innings, Jones thought it came down to some tough luck.

"I'll be honest, they were three unearned runs. I thought Mattie did a good job to start the game," Jones said. "My philosophy was to pitch two girls. I really wanted to pitch Brooke and Mattie both, give Brooke a little bit of rest after coming right back. I thought Mattie did well, and unfortunately they had three unearned runs on her and Brooke came in and shut them down in the end, which was really nice for us."

Boetjer, who had pitched a complete game in the Eagles' 3-1 morning win over Greencastle, started the second and was dominant. In five innings of work, she allow no runs on four hits, while striking out 11.

In the loss, Judy allowed five runs on 10 hits and struck out seven.

With both pitchers dealing, the middle innings were quiet. From the third to sixth innings, no runner on either side advanced beyond second base.

But in the seventh, Varvel got things started with her bloop to first base, and the rest was history.

In the bottom half, North threatened, with singles from Judy and Malayer putting runners at the corners. Boetjer shut the door, though, with a strikeout of Lauren Green.

"It's a good win. Winning the county's big for the girls, obviously," Jones said. "It's tough -- we took our shots from both Greencastle and North Put today. I'm happy. We have a lot more to do, though."

With sectional a little over a week away, both coaches have their sights set and are feeling strong.

"We're just going to keep getting better because we're not there yet," Jones said. "And that's the good news: We've played well, but we haven't played to what I think is our total potential for a full game.

"We take these next three games as sectional precursors. You have to win three games in a week to win the sectional -- we have three games next week. We need to set that up as a pre-sectional week for us and hopefully be ready to go," he concluded.

Brothers likes what he's seen and likes where the Cougars are headed.

"I'm proud of our kids. We battled. I'll take these guys into it," he said. "I think we have a great shot going into sectional. We're playing well and doing all the things we need to do. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."

At Greencastle

Putnam County Softball Tournament

Preliminary No. 1

Cloverdale000 000 1 -- 1 3 1
N. Putnam331 001 X -- 8 12 2

Raisor, Guttierez (2) and Byrd; Judy and Malayer

WP -- Judy

LP -- Raisor

2B -- CHS: Byrd; NP: Green 2, Judy

HR -- NP: Malayer

RBI -- CHS: Powell; NP: Green 3, Crosby, Malayer, McGaughey, Gray

Preliminary No. 2

Greencastle000 000 1 -- 1 4 2
S. Putnam000 120 X -- 3 6 1

Downing, Miller (5) and White; Boetjer and Thompson

WP -- Boetjer

LP -- Miller

2B -- SP: Varvel

RBI -- GHS: Downing; SP: Varvel 2, Crafton

Championship

S. Putnam200 000 3 -- 5 10 2
N. Putnam120 000 0 -- 3 8 1

Varvel, Boetjer (3) and Thompson; Judy and Malayer

WP -- Boetjer

LP -- Judy

2B -- SP: Welch, Whitaker

HR -- SP: Whitaker

RBI-- SP: Whitaker 2, Boetjer 2, Thompson; NP: Judy