South Vermillion’s Wildcats took another step — a rather easy step, in fact — toward a Wabash River Conference high school softball championship Tuesday evening against visiting Attica.
But try as they might, the South Vermillion players can’t help but look ahead after their 9-0 win Tuesday, and the 14-0 win at Attica a night earlier.
“We have good teams coming up,” cautioned Makenzie Mackey, after a three-hit, 14-strikeout performance in the circle. “If we’re not looking out for them, they can sneak up on us.”
“We’ve been looking forward to postseason all year — all the last two years, actually,” said center fielder Allison Schawitsch. “When I think of it, two words come to my mind: game on! We’re definitely looking forward to it.”
South Vermillion has won three straight sectional championships, and of course didn’t get a chance to extend its streak last spring. The 14-1 Wildcats seem to have established themselves as favorites again, and are looking forward to being tested by some nonconference foes in the near future.
But even though Monday’s big win prompted coach Butch Leek to rest more than half of his starters for Tuesday’s rematch, he indicated the 9-0 win wasn’t up to his team’s usual standards.
“It was a typical game for us, but we could have worked harder,” Mackey answered when an observer asked if he’d seen the real Wildcats in action. “We can’t play at the other team’s level.”
Mackey’s early work — striking out seven of the first nine batters she faced while inducing mostly defensive swings — made it appear that Tuesday was going to belong to the Wildcats, but it took a second-inning error to get the offense started.
Adyson Smith had walked with one out, and when Calee Coleman dropped down a two-out bunt single, Smith raced from first to third and Coleman continued to second on the throw to third. The error kept the inning alive and allowed Smith to score, Kyra Fellows stole second to put two runners in scoring position, and Schawitsch dropped a popup over the shortstop’s head.
What should have been a two-run single became a two-run double because Schawitsch saw no one covering second and breezed to the extra base. She then stole third on a throw back to the Attica pitcher and scored the inning’s fourth run on a hit by Kenley Minor.
You may have noticed by now that the Wildcats like to run.
“I like to think that’s a trademark of mine,” said Schawitsch, who had two of South Vermillion’s eight stolen bases. “We’ve been working a lot on being aggressive on the bases. That’s one of the key things for us this year.”
Mackey survived a two-out Attica rally that loaded the bases in the top of the third, and the Wildcats added another run in the bottom of the inning on a two-out RBI single by Tori Linnencamp.
The Red Ramblers had just two more baserunners over the last four innings — a walk and an error — and South Vermillion got its last four runs in the fourth, Kalli Crouch hitting a double off the top of the center-field fence and Brilee Schimmel getting a two-run single.
Leek wasn’t thrilled that his team couldn’t increase its lead and shorten the game, but isn’t unhappy with how the season has gone.
“We’ve got good pitching, solid defense and good sticks, one through nine,” he said after the game. “We haven’t really put a game together this year offensively yet, but I’m real proud of them. They have a lot of talent, and they work hard.”