TERRE HAUTE —
Nobody from the Riverton Parke softball team used the word “revenge” this week when discussing Saturday’s opponent in the Class A state finals at Ben Davis’ field in Indianapolis.
But the Panthers definitely haven’t forgotten how Indianapolis Lutheran ended their season in 2009.
First pitch Saturday is slated for 10:30 a.m. Indianapolis Lutheran won the Class A state title in 2004 and 2007, while Riverton Parke finished as Class A state runner-up in 1998.
Last year, these teams met in the regional championship game.
In what turned into a classic pitchers’ duel, Lutheran pulled out a 1-0 victory on a two-out single off the lunging center fielder’s glove in the 11th inning.
Haley Chambers, a freshman pitcher for Riverton Parke in 2009, fanned 10 batters in a losing effort. Morgan Lewis registered 14 strikeouts for the Indianapolis squad.
Lutheran, coached by Dan Pietz, went on to become the state runner-up.
“It was a pitching battle the whole time,” mentioned first baseman Makenzie Haltom, the lone senior for Riverton Parke this season. “Our defense was awesome. We were diving for balls. We were all on top of it… It was tough to lose.”
“It was a very good game,” recalled Chambers, who’s posted a 20-1 record with a 0.68 earned-run average and 230 strikeouts as a sophomore in 2010. “It was going to come down to who would get baserunners and would get the timely basehit… It was a heartbreaker. We wanted it so bad.
“I think about it all the time, especially this week.”
Now Indianapolis Lutheran (31-1) and Riverton Parke (30-2) will tangle again, with even more on the line.
“We told ’em [after the regional championship game] last year, ‘We’ll see you next year,’ ” Riverton Parke coach Joe Cox admitted.
“Our girls have been working really hard toward that shot at Lutheran since last year. They’ve been ranked No. 1 all year and we’ve been ranked No. 2 all year.”
Leading the Panthers’ offense have been Chambers (.481 batting average, one home run, 15 doubles, four triples, 48 runs scored); sophomore second baseman Sarah Burnham (.442, two homers, eight triples, 38 runs batted in); freshman shortstop Sara Dickey (.376, four triples, 27 RBIs, 36 runs); junior catcher Mikayla Grindle (.337, one homer, 24 RBIs); junior outfielder Randi Cookus (.333, three triples); junior third baseman Ashley Kinne (.330, two homers, 24 runs); and Haltom (.326).
The Lutheran Saints are no slouches at the plate either, thanks in large part to senior pitcher Lewis (.544, two homers, 16 doubles, 33 RBIs); junior catcher Chaunsey Bell (.533, 12 homers, 11 doubles, 32 RBIs, 28 runs); sophomore shortstop Hailey Reed (.523, six homers, nine triples, 13 doubles, 39 RBIs, 47 runs); senior first baseman Brandi Lawson (.407, four homers, 31 runs); senior outfielder Amanda Korb (.375, three homers); freshman infielder Baylea Suiters (.373); junior outfielder Jensen Pritt (.348); and junior second baseman Frances Shaffer (.345, two homers, 27 runs).
Lutheran’s top pitcher is still Lewis (29-1, 0.27 ERA, 343 strikeouts in 184 innings).
Indianapolis Lutheran is hitting .413 as a team. Riverton Parke carries a .353 batting average.
“It’s been a good season so far,” Chambers reflected. “Our team has been working really hard and we’ve accomplished all the goals we set for ourselves.”
Those goals were to win the Banks of the Wabash Classic, win the Wabash River Conference championship, win the Riverton Parke Invitational and win the sectional, regional and semistate.
“If we win the state,” Chambers added, “that would be icing on the cake.”
“That would be amazing,” Haltom acknowledged. “We want ’em even more this year because they knocked us out last year.”
Hmmm, that almost sounds like revenge.