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Thursday, May 5, 2016

South Putnam claims sectional title

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The South Putnam softball team won the sectional championship by defeating Cascade 3-2 in 12 innings Wednesday. Members of the Eagles are (front, left) Brooke Cundiff, Kaylin Yon, Brooke Boetjer, MaKenzie Trisler, Jenna Jones, Jenny Thompson, Emily Dabkowski, (back) head coach Chris Jones, Katie McHugh, Mattie Varvel, Ashley Gibson, Makayla Hettich, Kelsey Whitaker, Nikki York, Janet Crafton, assistant coach Ashley Nelson and assistant coach Lindsey Blackman. [Order this photo]
CLAYTON -- It took them 12 innings, but the South Putnam softball squad edged Cascade 3-2 to claim the Class 2A No. 44 Sectional title.

The Eagles knotted the game at 2-all in the fourth inning and the two squad played even until they hit the 12th inning. South Putnam had a chance to go ahead in the 10th inning, but left runners stranded on first and third. However, they were able to take advantage of a few Cadet miscues in the 12th inning to go ahead.

In the top of the inning, South Putnam began its charge with two outs. Kelsey Whitaker hit a shot that dribbled through the legs of Brenna Sallee at third base to reach. Brooke Boetjer got on base by a throwing error to move Whitaker over and put two runners on.

South Putnam sophomore Brooke Cundiff is greated with a hug from her father Doug after the Eagles won the Class 2A No. 44 Softball Sectional Wednesday. [Order this photo]
Mattie Varvel came to the plate and blasted a hard shot to the shortstop Kellie Mink. Mink trotted toward second in an attempt to reach the base before Boetjer. When she realized that wouldn't happen, she tried to flip the ball to second base. Meanwhile, all eyes were on Whitaker who made a break for home during the Mink/Boetjer showdown and crossed the plate to put South Putnam up for good.

In the bottom of the frame Brandyce Sallee hit a strong shot to centerfield that smacked the wall and landed her on second base to put the Eagle faithful on the edge of their seats. But Boetjer struck out Mink to close the game and send the Eagles to the regional next Tuesday.

"What a team win," head coach Chris Jones said. "Our girls were the epitome of a great team tonight. When you don't have your All-State shortstop and your leadoff batter who leads you in batting average -- she's not with you -- she's not playing.

"You get a sophomore that comes in and takes the shortstop position. You have a freshman that goes to right field and all the girls gelled together as one to get a win like that, with that type of pressure and that many innings -- that's incredible," he added.

The Eagles played the game without the services of starting shortstop Emily Dabkowski who suffered an injury the night before and the gravity of the situation was apparent early. The Eagles began the game flat and Cascade was more than happy to take advantage.

South Putnam went three up and three down to start the game and were clearly searching for a groove. On the flip side, the Cadets jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning with five of their first six batters recording hits.

Things improved in the second inning as Boetjer helped her own cause, connecting on a home run to left field to close the gap to 2-1 in favor of Cascade. A shift in the Eagles' demeanor began to happen in the third inning and the championship swagger was back in full effect by the fourth inning.

In the fourth, with Janet Crafton on base, second baseman Brooke Cundiff and Jones had a talk before her at-bat. Whatever the South Putnam skipper said made an impression. Cundiff took Haley Chambers offering for a ride to the gap in left-centerfield to plate Crafton and tie the game at 2-all -- a score that would remain until the 12th inning charge.

"Brooke Cundiff was huge for us tonight. Defensively it was coming to her all the time and I don't know where she got that power, but I'm glad she got that power to get us tied up," Jones said.

Jones praised the work of his pitcher/catcher combo and their effort on the night.

"Brooke did a tremendous job on the mound. Jenny (Thompson) doesn't get enough credit sometimes and she did an amazing job behind the plate. That's tiresome on that body with that many innings," Jones said.

Jones also commented on the stellar effort the Cadets put in on the night.

"Coach Helmick and I were talking before the game and I felt like us and Cascade are two teams in the top five in the state," Jones said. "They've only lost four games before tonight and they have a great program.

"They have a great pitcher in Haley Chambers and Brandyce behind the plate in phenomenal and the rest of the girls played amazing. They have nothing to be upset about. They should hold their heads high because they gave us a tremendous game," he said.

Jones said the fan turnout and support Wednesday was a big lift as well.

The Eagles will move on and face Indianapolis Scecina Tuesday on the Crusaders home field. The two are familiar foes, with the teams squaring off in last year's IHSAA semi-state where the Eagles won 3-1.

At Cascade

Class 2A No. 44 Sectional Final

S. Putnam 010 100 000 001 -- 3 7 1

Cascade 200 000 000 000 -- 2 11 4

WP -- Boetjer

LP -- Chambers

HR -- Boetjer (SP)

2B -- Cundiff (SP), Sallee 2 (CAS), Chambers (CAS)