Caston edges Pioneer to win Hoosier North softball title
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Isabel Scales homered twice and drove in three runs, and Kinzie Mollenkopf struck out nine in a complete-game effort to lead the Caston softball team to a 6-5 win over host Pioneer and the outright Hoosier North title at Herk Hoffman Field at Rea Park Tuesday.
Class 1A, No. 3 Caston improved to 17-3 overall and completed a perfect 7-0 conference mark. Class 2A, No. 1 Pioneer fell to 22-2, 6-1.
The conference title is Caston’s first since the formation of the Hoosier North in 2015. Historical records for softball are sketchy, but it’s believed to be Caston’s first win in softball over Pioneer in at least a decade.
The win spoiled the heroics of Pioneer senior Hailey Cripe, who went 3 for 3, including a three-run homer in the fifth that tied the game at 4. Cripe scored two runs and also struck out 12 in the circle.
Scales led off the top of the sixth with a solo homer, her second of the game. That gave Caston a 5-4 lead, and they scored another run in the inning to go up 6-4.
Pioneer scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the gap to one, and they had two runners on base when Kinzie Mollenkopf struck out Shaylee Goings to end the game.
The final out set off an exuberant celebration from the visitors.
The win created something of a reversal of fortune: Pioneer beat Caston 6-0 on Caston’s field last year to clinch their conference title.
Macee Hinderlider had two hits for Caston, and Bailey Harness and Addison Zimpleman each had a hit and a run scored.
Annie Harsh had a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly, and Makena Middleton also had an RBI.
Mollenkopf allowed 12 hits and a walk.
Kylie Attinger also had three hits for Pioneer as part of the Lady Panthers’ 12-hit attack. She added an RBI and a run scored.
Mackenzie Robinson had two hits and an RBI, and Kylie Farris also had two hits. Carlie Morris and Goings had one hit each.
Cripe allowed seven hits and four earned runs. She walked two.
Scales’ first homer was a two-run shot that gave Caston a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Caston extended the leafd to 3-0 in the top of the third, but Robinson’s RBI double in the bottom half made it 3-1.
Harsh’s sacrifice fly in the fifth made it 4-1, but Cripe evened the score in the next half-inning.
Pioneer had routed Culver 20-0 in five innings on Monday to set up the winner-take-all showdown for the conference title.
Caston begins Class 1A, Sectional 52 play against Southwood at 6:30 p.m. Monday at North Miami.
Pioneer has a road game against Class 3A, No. 8 Benton Central on Thursday and a home game against Kankakee Valley to close out its regular season play.
Pioneer will play Rensselaer at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Tuesday at North Judson in a Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal.
Caston 6, Pioneer 5
Caston 201 012 0 – 6 7 2
Pioneer 001 031 0 – 5 12 1
WP – Kinzie Mollenkopf (7 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 9 K)
LP – Hailey Cripe (7 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 12 K)
2B – Bailey Harness (CAS), Carlie Morris (PIO)
HR – Isabel Scales 2 (CAS), Hailey Cripe (PIO)