Eagles clinch regional berth
Coming into Tuesday’s Class 2A Area 5 softball area tournament at Zion Chapel, the Rebels needed just one win to wrap up a visit to the South Central Regional tournament next week in Troy.
However, when the dust had settled in Jack, it was the Goshen Eagles who had punched their ticket to Troy.
The Eagles entered the area tournament as the No. 2 seed, but now find themselves in a very advantageous position after defeating both Highland Home and Zion Chapel Tuesday
Zion Chapel and Highland Home will meet in an elimination game Thursday, and the winner will advance to play Goshen.
Since the tournament is double elimination format, the Eagles would have to be beaten two consecutive times Thursday in order to not walk away with the area championship.
Goshen defeated Highland Home 7-3 in the first game of the day before beating Zion Chapel 4-2.
The win over Zion Chapel marked the second straight win for the Eagles over the Rebels, both coming at Zion Chapel.
The game was tied 2-2 heading into the sixth inning before Goshen came up with what would be the decisive runs.
Niyoka Slater led off the inning for the Eagles, and reached on an error. Rachel Senn then came up with a bunt single to give the Eagles runners on first and second with nobody out.
Following a double steal, Goshen’s Amanda Griggs hit a ball through the right side to drive home Slater and put Goshen on top for good. Griggs was thrown out at first by the right fielder, but still picked up the RBI.
Shelby Jo Vinson followed that with an RBI groundout to second base, putting Goshen up 4-2.
The Eagles’ momentum carried over into the bottom of the sixth, as Goshen pitcher Alli Warrick struck out three Rebels in a row to end the inning.
“That inning was huge,” said Goshen head coach Dee Hughes. “I told our other coaches that we had wrapped the game with that.”
Warrick pitched a complete game two-hitter for Goshen, giving up no earned runs, two unearned runs and four bases on balls while striking out 11.
Warrick was able to outduel Rebel pitcher Heather Hines, who also pitched a complete game, but gave up the game’s only earned run in the sixth.
Hines gave up three hits, one earned run, three unearned runs and struck out five.
“We outhit them, but they made some good plays that kept us from having some more runners on base,” Hughes said.
Goshen scored its other two runs in the second, when Mary Jordan hit an RBI double to centerfield to score Warrick and Samantha Roy.
“We got some awesome pitching, but Mary Jordan came up with that big hit, and that’s huge when you get someone at the bottom of your lineup to come through in a situation like that,” Hughes said.
Zion Chapel’s only two runs came in the third, when Erika Mount singled to left field. The ball went under the glove of Goshen left fielder Haley Hughes, enabling Zion Chapel’s Rebecca Hodge and Kelli Behrens to score and tie the game at two.
Jordan led the Eagles’ offensive attack, going 1-3 with a double and two RBIs. Griggs and Vinson were both 0-3, but both had an RBI.
Mount and Amber Rugg had Zion Chapel’s only two hits, both singles.
Goshen’s other win Tuesday came against Highland Home by a score of 7-3.
Goshen never trailed, and got another solid pitching performance, this time from Griggs.
Griggs pitched six innings, giving up three earned runs, four hits and two walks while striking out nine. Warrick came on in relief, pitching a perfect seventh inning, with one strikeout.
Griggs also led the way at the plate, going 3-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Senn was 1-4 with two RBIs, Warrick was 2-3 with an RBI, Senn went 1-2 with a double and an RBI and Vinson drove in one run with an 0-2 showing at the plate.
With the win, Goshen will play in Troy next week, and finds itself just one win away from an area championship.
“We took our lumps early in the year, but we have really pulled together as of late,” Hughes said. “We’ve peaked, and it’s great to be able to do that at tournament time.”
Zion Chapel will play in Jack Thursday at 3 p.m., and the winner will advance to play Goshen at 5 p.m. Thursday. If a third game is necessary, it would be played at 7 p.m.