Gotshall pitches shutout, homers as Pioneer extends win streak to 16
Walker gets 4 hits, Robinson drives in 4
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WHEATFIELD –- Pioneer softball player Hailey Gotshall grinded out at-bats in multiple ways against Kankakee Valley Friday.
The senior worked around six walks to pitch a three-hit shutout, and she also hit a solo homer as the Class 2A, No. 1 Lady Panthers beat the Class 3A, No. 10 Lady Kougars 9-0 at Brian Flynn Field.
Mackenzie Walker went 4 for 4 with two RBIs, and Mackenzie Robisnon added two hits and four RBIs. Hailey Cripe had a pair of singles and an RBI. Gotshall also had a double.
Pioneer extended their winning streak to 16 games and finished the regular season 28-2. Their next game is against Rensselaer at 7:45 p.m. Monday in a Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal at Winamac.
Pioneer has been doing it with run prevention.
Pioneer’s last loss was 11-0 to Harrison (West Lafayette) in six innings on April 30. In the 16 games since, their opponents have scored a grand total of 11 runs.
Gotshall, pitching for the first time since she hurled a no-hitter against Caston in the Hoosier North clincher Tuesday, walked six and struck out 13 this time.
She struck out six consecutive batters at one point from the first through the third innings. She worked around walks to Hayley Alexander and Lexi Broyles in the fourth.
But her biggest jam occurred in the fifth with Pioneer leading 4-0. Gotshall walked Abbi Wilhelm and allowed Mady Peterson’s bloop single. She got Carly Basham on a soft grounder to Cripe at first base, who tagged Basham running down the line for the second out.
But then Gotshall walked Alexander again to load the bases. That brought up Shultz, who leads Kankakee Valley in homers (three) and extra-base hits (nine), representing the tying run.
Walker, the catcher, visited the circle for a visit with Gotshall. She asked Gotshall what she felt like throwing. Gotshall said high screwball.
Shultz lofted a fly to shallow center field.
Farris came charging in, communicating to her teammates that it was hers. She made a waist-high basket catch. Inning over.
“It was huge,” Pioneer coach Gabrielle Thomas said. “Range, she’s got it. She’s basically got the domain. If she’s going to call it, short and second are going to back off. That was huge.”
Gotshall extended the lead to 5-0 with a long solo homer to left off Shultz in the seventh.
Cripe and Walker then singled, and both advanced on a wild pitch. Shultz hit Madison Blickenstaff with a pitch to load the bases.
Robinson then hit a sinking liner to left field. Kankakee Valley left fielder Carmen Rosado tried to make a shoestring catch, but the ball went under glove and rolled all the way to the gap to score Cripe, Walker and Blickenstaff and make it 8-0.
Kylie Attinger came into pinch-run for Robinson, and she scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to complete the scoring.
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot to us right now,” Walker said when asked about the No. 1 ranking. “The rankings are just a ranking. It’s just a number. Anything can happen during the tournament run. We want to be the team that comes out on top. But right now, rankings don’t matter.”
Shultz was recognized for setting Kankakee Valley’s single-season strikeout record in the circle after the first inning, but the lady Panthers got to her in the second.
Walker singled and advanced to second on an errant throw in from the outfield. She advanced to third on Blickenstaff’s bunt and scored on Robinson’s RBI single.
Though Gotshall had a pair of extra-base hits, her best plate appearance might have occurred in the top of the fifth and Pioneer leading 1-0. Pulling several of Shultz’s pitches foul, she worked a walk to keep the inning alive for Cripe.
Cripe, whose three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth against Benton Central Thursday was a highlight in a 3-1 win, then drilled a single to left to score Crystabelle Blickenstaff and make it 2-0. Gotshall and Cripe advanced to second and third when the throw home was late.
Then Walker singled to left to bring home two more runs and make it 4-0.
“By that point, you’ve seen almost every single pitch that pitcher has, so she’s not going to beat you with the speed, so it’s just making those adjustments,” Thomas said. “She did a fabulous job of working that count, seeing a lot of pitches. Several of our girls in their second and third at-bats did much better working the count.”
Pioneer 9, Kankakee Valley 0
Pioneer 010 030 5 – 9 12 0
Kankakee Valley 000 000 0 – 0 3 3
WP – Hailey Gotshall (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 13 K)
LP – Mary Kate Shultz (7 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 7 K)
2B – Hailey Gotshall (PIO), Mackenzie Robinson (PIO)
HR – Hailey Gotshall (PIO)
Kylie Farris Hailey Gotshall Mackenzie Walker