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  • Val T.

Combs homers, drives in 5, leads Winamac to sectional semis

Coleman, Haughs, Watson have 2 hits each in prep finales for Rochester


Sports Editor, RTC

The Rochester softball team finished their season 15-7 following a 9-5 loss to Winamac in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 quarterfinal at Fansler Field Monday.

Corrin Combs homered and drove in five runs, and Emma Goodman had two hits and three RBIs for the Winamac softball team in a 9-5 win over Rochester in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 quarterfinal at Rochester’s Fansler Field Monday.

McKenzie Hinz pitched an eight-hitter for the win in the circle. She beat Rochester for the second time this season, also beating them 9-8 in a regular season meeting on April 11.

Winamac improved to 18-9 and earned a semifinal meeting with Pioneer at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Seniors Kylie Coleman, Sydney Haughs and Kallie Watson had two hits each, but all three saw their prep softball careers end. Haughs had two doubles and two RBIs, and Watson also had an RBI. Coleman also had two doubles.

Rochester finished 15-7. They have not won a softball sectional title since 2012.

Winamac survived a baserunning blunder in the bottom of the third.

With the bases loaded and one out, Goodman appeared to line a two-run single to center, but Maggie Smith was called out on appeal for not touching third base on her way home from second.

So instead of the game being tied, Winamac still trailed 2-1, and there were now two outs.

But Hinz followed with an RBI single to score Makayla Werner and move Corinne Ulerick, courtesy running for Goodman, from first to third. And when the throw could not get Ulerick at third, Hinz advanced to second on the throw.

Combs then lined a two-run single to right-center to score Ulerick and Hinz and give Winamac a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish.

Rochester scored an unearned run in the fifth. Coleman reached on a bobbled grounder to second, and when the throw to try and get her was wild for a second error on the play, Coleman reached second. She then stole third and scored on an error on the throw to make it 4-3.

But it was Combs, who hit a grand slam against the Lady Zs at Winamac Town Park in the April 11 game, that struck again in the bottom half.

With runners on first and second and one out, a hustling Hinz hit a grounder to second base but was able to beat a relay throw to first to avoid a potential inning-ending double play.

With the inning still alive, that gave Combs a chance to hit with two on base.

Rochester coach Jim Coleman replaced Mia Howdeshell in the circle with Emma Howdeshell, but Combs cranked a long three-run homer just to the right of straightaway center into the Rochester twilight.

The lead was 7-3, and Combs had driven in all five of her runs with two outs.

“You know, she did a nice job of driving the ball middle,” Rochester coach Jim Coleman said of Combs. “She didn’t try to pull anything. We tried staying away from her. … She did a nice job attacking the ball. … Unfortunately, Emma got the ball up a little bit, and she hit it hard, and that definitely turned the game around.”

Goodman, who is just one of 12 players in the state with 50 or more RBIs, tacked on a two-out, two-run single off Emma Howdeshell in the sixth to make it 9-3.

Haughs had an RBI double and Watson an RBI grounder to Smith at shortstop to make it 9-5 in the seventh, but Werner threw out Maddi Heinzmann trying to advance from first to third on Mia Howdeshell’s single for the second out.

Hinz then slipped a called third strike by Mylee Heinzmann to end the game.

“She did a nice job of working the corners,” coach Coleman said of Hinz. “She really picked her team up. … It seemed like once we got runners on, she got tough and really was able to close the door on us.”

Rochester loaded the bases with nobody out in the second on a Haughs double, a Watson infield hit and a Maddi Heinzmann fielder’s choice on a bunt where the third baseman dropped a throw for an error that would have resulted in a forceout.

Hinz pitched her way out of it, getting Mia Howdeshell on a liner to first and striking out Mylee Heinzmann and Darah Strasser.

But Rochester was able to grab a 2-0 lead in the third. Aubrey Miller was hit by a pitch and went to third on Coleman’s deep double to center. Haughs then lined a sacrifice fly to deep right, which was dropped for an error. Miller and Coleman both scored on the play.

Emma Howdeshell and Maddi Heinzmann also had their high school careers end. Coach Coleman is not only Kylie’s father but had coached the other seniors during their travel ball careers dating back to grade school.

The group of seniors lost their freshman season to the pandemic in 2020.

“That core group of seniors, I’ve been around a lot,” coach Coleman said. “And spent a lot of time together and coached a lot of innings with that group. For me to come in and coach this last year with them, their last year, I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Every single one of those girls mean the world to me. I would do anything for them. It’s a great group, a group that I’m thankful stuck with it.”

Asked if he intended to coach the team next year, Coleman said “absolutely.”

Winamac 9, Rochester 5

Rochester 002 010 2 – 5 8 3

Winamac 004 032 X – 9 9 5

WP – McKenzie Hinz (7 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 5 K)

LP – Mia Howdeshell (4 ⅔ IP, 6 H, 6 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K)

2B – Sydney Haughs 2 (RHS), Kylie Coleman 2 (RHS)

HR – Corrin Combs (WIN)

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