WALTONVILLE – Waltonville/Sesser-Valier defeated Woodlawn Wednesday afternoon, 11-1, to claim the Midland Trail Conference tournament championship in high school softball action.
Five players for the Spartans had multiple hits as WSV finished with on the day.
“It was a good game with good teams,” said WSV head coach John Kiselewski. “The final score doesn’t indicate how close the final score was.”
The game was tight until the fifth inning with the Spartans busted the game open with a nine-run inning capped off by a grand slam from Jessie Eubanks.
“I didn’t even know the bases were loaded when I got up there,” said Eubanks. “I just went up and hit it. I didn’t even know it was going out. I could see it coming in that it was a good pitch to hit.”
Eubanks hit the home run on a 3-1 count. The pitch prior to the home, Eubanks thought it was ball four, but the umpire disagreed and called it a strike.
“She looked down at me and thought it was a little outside,” said Kiselewski. “I told her, ‘no matter what you think, the umpire has the final decision. Get back in there and hit.’ We tell them, ‘you don’t want to walk anyway. You want to get up there and hit it.’ Obviously, she did.”
The Cardinals scored in the bottom half of the fourth to make it a one-run game in favor of the Spartans. However, Woodlawn could not stave off the Spartan in the fifth.
“They’re a good team and they got rolling,” said Woodlawn coach Matt Patterson. “We couldn’t stop the avalanche there.”
WSV took an early lead against the Cardinals and starting pitcher Kalyn Crider with Taylor Frank’s RBI double to score Taylor Witges in the top of the first inning.
“Frank got it set driving in that run in the first inning,” said Kiselewski. “You’ll take a 1-0 lead every time and she got us out to that 1-0 lead and gave us a little confidence that we could score and that we could hit Crider. We kept the pressure on them.
WSV made it 2-0 with Olivia Massie singled and moved to third on an error. She scored on a ground ball out from Jaylin Haley.
Woodlawn responded in the Callie Lueking led off with a single. She moved to second in a sacrifice bunt from Madison Tiemann and then to third on a ground out.
That followed Hallie Hill reaching on an infield error to score an unearned run to make it 2-1.
Of the 12 hits from the Spartans on the day, eight came in the nine-run fifth inning. Before Eubanks’ home run, Massie had a two-RBI double and Frank drove in two with a single.
“We had a talk with them going into the fifth inning,” said Kiselewski. “‘We’re hitting the ball okay, but let’s relax up there and get a little better pitch selection and take better at-bats and take better pitch selection and do a better job at the plate.’
“I’m not saying what I said was the key, but we did a better job with that.”.
Hannah Garascia was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Witges was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Frank was 2-for-3 with a run scored and three RBI.
Massie was 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI. Rylee Breeze was 2-for-3 with a run scored and Eubanks had one hit, but four RBI thanks to the grand slam.
“We were 1-1 with Woodlawn this year and they got us in the game that mattered [in conference] up at their place,” said Kiselewski. “We wanted a little revenge and the girls wanted it today. I didn’t have to give them much of a motivational speech today. They were ready to play.”
Callie Lueking was the only Cardinal hitter with multiple hits as she was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
“They just put so much pressure on you, especially when they get people on base,” said Patterson. “You’ve got to be perfect and that wears on you a little bit and one mistake and they’ll punish you.”
Woodlawn plays Monday against Breese Mater Dei, while WSV enters regional play Tuesday.