Eagles clinch conference title with win
After approximately a 215 hour delay, North Putnam and 2A No. 3 South Putnam finished the first game of their season double-header Wednesday night.
Having played part of the first inning two Monday's ago, the two squads had to wait to finish the contest, even after playing the second game last Friday, a 1-0 win for South Putnam.
The wait was no issue for the home side, as the Eagle bats came out in the middle of the game and powered them to a 7-0 win that also saw them crowned WCC champions.
South Putnam pitcher Brooke Boetjer slammed through the Cougar line-up, only allowing four base runners and, while not giving up a hit Wednesday, gave up only two hits over the course of the game.
North's Taylor Judy initially was able to squeeze out of a couple of jams, but things went South's way starting in the third inning.
Jenny Thompson singled to lead off the inning, followed by Kelsey Whitaker reaching on an error. Boetjer drove in Thompson with a single before another error allowed Jenna Jones to bring in Whitaker and Boetjer.
Jones was tagged out on a grounder by Mattie Varvel, but the throw to first sailed away, allowing Varvel to reach base. A fly out and a grounder to first ended the inning, but not before the hosts had a 3-0 lead.
Things only got worse in the fourth for the Cougars, as Janet Crafton reached base after a pop-up in the infield was not caught. After a sac bunt, Thompson singled and Whitaker doubled to bring in two more and stretch the lead to 5-0.
Boetjer's sac fly brought in Whitaker for a 6-0 lead. Jones singled and stole second, though Varvel walked soon after. Destiny Tomasino smacked a single back up the middle to score Jones before the final out was recorded and left the Eagles in the driver's seat with a 7-0 lead.
North Putnam would get their lone Wednesday base runner in the fifth when Laken Pugh walked, but the Cougars could not get her past first and were unable to mount any offense thereafter.
Eagle head coach Chris Jones thought some extra innings might have helped get his squad some momentum heading into the Wednesday clash.
"It's been nice that we've gotten in one more game since Friday than they have. It gave us one more chance to see a live pitcher, so that's helped our offense to put the ball into play," Jones said.
"Anytime you play these double conference games, they're not the same game. Tonight, we put the ball into play and took advantage of mistakes they made in the field. That helped us get going and put runs on the board."
"Defensively, we did a nice job behind Brooke. Brooke had a nice game with 10 K's and when the ball was put in play, we fielded it cleanly and made outs. That's what we have to do as a defense," Jones added.
With Boetjer and the Eagle defense solid for six innings, it was the inning that was played two Monday's ago that might have made a major difference in the game, but was also a boost for the squad.
"That's huge for your confidence. Any time early in a game you can get out of a pressure situation and shut an offense down and be able to carry that momentum on is big. It was nice for us that when we got runners into scoring position (today), we found a way to get them in," Jones said.
Shuffling around part of his line-up, only to see six errors in the field, Cougar head coach Chris Hiland was a little surprised by his squad's performance.
"Mentally, we didn't seem ready for tonight. Our third baseman was sick and we had to plug in someone who wasn't really ready for it. That's probably on me that I haven't groomed another third baseman for the varsity squad, so I'll take that one," Hiland said.
"We just didn't look ready with our responsibilities defensively. Taylor came in and threw strikes, and in their big innings, we easily could have gotten out of them without the errors.
"It was just a bad day for us and it happens in softball from time to time. We'll learn from it and move on and continue to get better before we see these people again because we will and before our next game with Crawfordsville," Hiland added.
With the Athenians visiting Friday, improvement will be needed and Hiland was already formulating that strategy.
"One thing you can take from a loss is things to work on. We need to work on our execution when they get hits, on what happens when they put the ball in play and it's not a putout," Hiland said.
"I thought our hitting wasn't bad. We didn't put any solid hits on, but we did put some deeper swings on the ball. I was pleased with that, and we'll work on the team defense and organization before Crawfordsville."
South Putnam, meanwhile, just needs to keep the ball rolling, according to Jones.
"We've got West Vigo at home, a very solid team, similar to North Putnam. We've got two really good teams back to back, so we've got to come out prepared and ready to go," Jones said.
"It's nice to get a win like this, a conference and county win, but you've got to be able to bounce back the next night and continue to take this momentum forward and get better each and every game, which is our goal right now."
At South Putnam
North Putnam 000 000 0 -- 0 2 6
South Putnam 003 400 X -- 7 7 0
WP -- Boetjer (9-1)
LP -- Judy (4-3)
2B -- Whitaker
Next Game: South Putnam (14-1, 8-0 WCC) hosts West Vigo Thursday at 5:00 PM. North Putnam (5-4, 2-4 WCC) hosts Crawfordsville Friday at 5:00 PM.