Harrison ends Pioneer’s win streak after 37 games, one full year
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ROYAL CENTER — Losses for the Pioneer softball team might be rare occurrences, but not all Pioneer opponents are Harrison (West Lafayette)
Chelsea Parker and Ava Mobley hit two-run homers as part of a four-run fifth inning, and Sydney Miller pitched a three-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts to lead the Lady Raiders to a 10-0 win over Class 2A, No. 1 at Herk Hoffman Field on April 29.
The loss broke Pioneer’s 37-game winning streak and dropped them to 14-1. Pioneer’s previous loss was an 11-0 loss in six innings at Harrison on April 30, 2021. Pioneer then won their final 23 games of the season, capped off by a state title win over Sullivan, and their first 14 games of this season.
The loss at Herk Hoffman Field was Pioneer’s first since a 9-4 loss to Morgan Township on April 15, 2017.
“We defend our home field, and that’s what you have to do each time,” Pioneer coach Gabby Thomas said.
Harrison scored three runs in the top of the third, all after there were nobody on and two outs. Whitney Duell singled and cut the bag and was halfway between first and second when she decided to retreat after Mackenzie Robinson’s strong throw to second.
Duell escaped a rundown on a dropped throw and dove back safely to first. Duell then stole second and went to third on a wild pitch.
“It was huge,” Pioneer coach Gabby Thomas said. “It’s about doing those little things that add up to the big things. And that little play right there allowed them to get a few runs.”
Kiersten Delaney drove home one run with an RBI double, and two more runs scored on a Pioneer error on a ground ball hit by Jadyn Ramer.
Parker and Mobley’s homers two innings later off Pioneer pitcher Hailey Cripe made it 7-0.
Meanwhile, Miller did not allow a Pioneer baserunner to get as far as second base. Mackenzie Robinson singled in the first, Cripe singled in the fourth, and Adeline Cripe singled in the fifth. Pioneer came in averaging 12.3 runs per game.
Miller retired the final seven batters.
“She had a very good difference,” Thomas said of Miller’s pitches. “And then she was messing with that curve-drop and that rise ball. … She did what she had to do to make her defense successful but also make herself successful. She’s a good pitcher. That’s probably the best pitcher we’ll face this season.”
Parker added another two-run single in the sixth, and Kylie Dugan had an RBI double off reliever Shaylee Goings in the seventh.
Harrison lost sisters Anna and Emma Henderson, both of whom are playing at Iowa, and Abbott Badgley, now playing at Bradley, to graduation from a sectional championship team, but they improved to 12-1 while extending their own winning streak to 11 games.
Coach Kelsi Clark said her team’s offensive strategy was to see the ball down and not chase the ball up. She acknowledged Pioneer’s historical success.
“We know the tradition and how just really dominant they are in their class,” Clark said. “Obviously, coming off a state championship, we knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game. … You see a school on the schedule, and some people might look at that and think why would we play them. But obviously, in years past and as we continue to go, it’s a good team with good players. I think last year, we only had three runs until the sixth inning. We keep it close, and I like the competition, and I think they probably feel the same way, being able to play a bigger school and face probably faster pitching than what they’re accustomed to in some of their games.
“It really prepares them for the postseason.”
Harrison (West Lafayette) 10, Pioneer 0
Harrison 003 042 1 – 10 11 0
Pioneer 000 000 0 – 0 3 2
WP – Sydney Miller (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 K)
LP – Hailey Cripe (4 ⅓ IP, 7 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K)
2B – Kiersten Delaney (HARR), Kylie Dugan (HARR)
HR – Chelsea Parker (HARR), Ava Mobley (HARR)