The Eagles (20-1) scored a pair of runs in the first inning on their way to an 8-0 victory, reclaiming the County Paddle for the third consecutive year.
"It's been three in a row for these girls, and it's nice. I guarantee it's every county team's goal, and it should be," coach Chris Jones said. "We've been able in the past few years to pull it out in a variety of ways."
Even on Saturday, the Eagles pulled the wins out in two different ways.
The morning session saw a pitcher's duel between the Eagles' Brooke Boetjer and Cloverdale's Paige Gutierrez. The final score of 6-2 doesn't tell the story.
The Clovers took a 2-1 lead over the state's top-ranked team in the top of the sixth, but the Eagle bats came to life in the bottom half.
"Jenny Thompson starts us off with a triple. Kelsey Whitaker bunts and squeezes her in. Brooke comes on and gets home run," Jones said. "The momentum in that inning just kept going. We were able to put up five big runs and able to win, and that was a big step for us because we hadn't been in that situation since the beginning of the season."
It was a different story in the finals, as Emily Dabkowski, Thompson and Whitaker loaded the bases with two singles and a hit by pitch. Boetjer's sacrifice fly plated Dabkowski, and Thompson scored on a passed ball.
The Eagle offense continued to produce, with a run in the third, two in the fifth and three in the sixth. Destiny Tomasino led off the sixth with a home run, and Boetjer had a pair of RBI. Whitaker, Dabkowski and Thompson each drove in one.
"We came in and jumped on them early and then kept it on," Jones said.
Boetjer, in spite of her 24 strikeouts on the day, was hittable. The Cougars (11-8) reached safely eight times, led by Katie Welch's two doubles.
It was the key hit that proved elusive, as they left seven runners on base, five of them in scoring position.
"That's been our problem lately," coach Chase Hiland said. "It's not that we can't hit Brooke Boetjer -- everybody knows she's a great pitcher -- but we have people that have the ability to put the ball in play, to move people, to get hits. We hit some solid hits off her. But when we have players on second and third base, they just weren't there."
The problem was the higher part of the order reaching base, and the latter part struggling at the plate. North's fifth through ninth hitters were a combined 1-for-15 with 11 strikeouts.
"When you move on to sectionals, the big things in tournament play are, 'Can you get the big hit?'" Hileand said. "There's always a situation in the tournament where you have to get the big hit somewhere along the way. That's what we need to focus on."
Oddly, the Cougars struggled to get any hits in their first round game against Greencastle, yet they found ways to score anyway. The Tiger Cubs' Kayla Downing held the Cougars to just one hit, but GHS was victimized by four errors and two passed balls in the 2-1 loss.
For the Cougars, Taylor Judy allowed four hits and a walk while striking out six. She added three more strikeouts in the championship game loss.
In the end, Hiland had to tip his cap to the championship squad.
"They're a good team and they made the plays they had to make and got the hits they had to make. Congratulations to them," he said.
North Putnam has three games left before sectional, and the coach still sees work to do. He said he wants to see a complete game from his squad, something he hasn't seen even in recent victories.
"We really want to put together a full seven to make it easier on the team and me and the fans," Hiland said.
Jones was glad to see his team, even with all its success, can win in a tournament environment.
"It's a championship caliber atmosphere, and that's the type of test that you need if you want to be a great team," Jones said. We're striving to be the best that we can be, and in order to do that we have to play opponents like we did today and we have to respond like we did today."
Putnam County Softball Tournament
|South Putnam||201 023 0 -- 8 11 0|
|North Putnam||000 000 0 -- 0 8 1|
Boetjer and Thompson; Judy, Green (6) and Robinson
WP -- Boetjer
LP -- Judy
2B -- SP: Dabkowski, Thompson; NP: Welch 2
HR -- SP: Tomasino
RBI --SP: Boetjer 2, Whitaker, Tomasino, Dabkowski, Thompson
|Cloverdale||000 101 0 -- 2 6 2|
|South Putnam||001 005 X -- 6 8 0|
Gutierrez and Goss; Boetjer and Thompson
WP -- Boetjer
LP -- Gutierrez
2B -- CHS: Toney, Gutierrez, Knapp; SP: Trislar, Crafton
3B -- SP: Thompson
HR -- SP: Boetjer
RBI -- CHS: Gutierrez, Goss; SP: Boetjer 2, Whitaker, Tomasino, Crafton
|Greencastle||000 000 0 -- 0 4 4|
|North Putnam||001 010 X -- 2 1 4|
Downing and Bennett; Judy and Robinson
WP -- Judy
LP -- Downing
RBI -- GHS: Gobert; NP: Welch