Last team standing
The last two times Goshen and Zion Chapel met on the softball field, the games were low-scoring, close games won by the Goshen Eagles.
When the Eagles and Rebels met Thursday in the championship game of the Class 2A Area 5 tournament, however, that was not the case.
Goshen scored eight runs in the first two innings, and cruised to an 11-1 victory in five innings.
“They really had wanted this since last year,” said Goshen head coach Dee Hughes. “This is something they just kept working towards all year long, and it’s a great feeling, but its only one of our goals.”
Eight of Goshen’s 11 runs were driven in on three swings of the bat, as Kaitlin Thomas, Amanda Griggs and Rachel Senn all hit home runs to fuel the Eagles’ offensive attack.
“We’ve hit two in a game a couple of times this season, but this is the first time I can remember us hitting three in a game,” Hughes said.
After Eagle pitcher Alli Warrick retired the side in order in the top of the first, the Eagles came up to bat and got to work on building their lead.
Niyoka Slater singled to lead off the inning, and scored the game’s first run when she came home after a throwing error by the Rebels’ Lexi Pigott.
After Griggs grounded out to record the inning’s second out, the Eagles started a two-out rally.
Shelby Jo Vinson and Samantha Roy both reached base on Rebel errors, setting the stage for Thomas’s home run, a three-run blast to centerfield.
Goshen struck for four more runs in the second when Slater hit an RBI single to centerfield, scoring Mary Jordan, who had led off the inning with a double.
Senn then singled, and Slater scored on an error by third baseman Lauren Knighten.
That brought Griggs back to the plate, and she responded with a two-run home run over the left field fence to make it 8-0.
Griggs’s home run chased ZCHS starter Shelby Sorrells from the game after just one and a third innings.
Sorrells got the start over Heather Hines, possibly because of her prior success against Goshen. Sorrells faced the Eagles twice earlier in the year, and was dominant both times.
On Thursday, however, Sorrells was rocked, giving up four earned runs, four unearned runs and six hits in her brief appearance.
“She is a pitcher that had shut us down the two times we had seen her before, so I think they went with her because of her success against us this season, but our girls wanted her to pitch,” Hughes said. “They felt like they had something to prove. They really wanted to show her that they could hit her, and I think they did that.”
Hines came in in relief, and got the Rebels out of the inning with no further damage. She then retired the side in order in the third before the Eagles’ bats heated up once more in the fourth inning.
Haley Hughes was hit by a pitch to start the inning, followed by a single from Slater.
Senn then launched a pitch over the left-centerfield wall, putting Goshen up 11-0.
The Rebels tried to extend the game in the top of the fifth, and were able to push a run across and place runners on second and third with one out, but Warrick retired the next two Rebel batters to end the game.
Warrick picked up her third win in as many tries against the Rebels, pitching the five-inning complete game. Warrick allowed one earned run on three hits, and struck out five.
Senn led the Eagle offense, going 2-2 with a home run, a run scored and three RBIs.
Slater finished 3-3 with an RBI and three runs scored, while both Griggs and Thomas finished 1-3 with a home run.
With the area tournament now behind them, the Eagles move on to the South Central regional in Troy next week, where they will play at 11 a.m. against an opponent that is yet to be determined.
“We’re just going to keep doing everything we’ve been doing,” Hughes said. “Our motto this week was ‘Put it all out there,’ and they did that. They gave it everything we had, and they were aggressive all week.”