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  • Val T.

Newby goes 4 for 4, Layer gets out of jam as Pioneer advances to sectional final


Sports Editor, RTC

Emma Sells

Kamryn Newby went 4 for 4 with three runs scored, and pitcher Lois Layer escaped a crucial sixth-inning jam with a strikeout of Addison Bakehorn with the tying run in scoring position as the Pioneer softball team beat Wabash 9-4 in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 semifinal at Rochester’s Fansler Field Tuesday.

Addison Kennell and Ava Ott each had a hit and two RBIs in support of fellow freshman Layer for Pioneer, who improved to 19-8 and will next face Rochester in the sectional final at 6:30 p.m. today.

Rochester drubbed North Judson 15-3 in five innings in the other semifinal.

Eight of the nine batters in Pioneer’s starting lineup had at least one hit as part of Pioneer’s 15-hit attack. The only batter who did not get a hit was Layer, and she reached twice on a hit-by-pitch and a walk.

Emma Sells had three hits from the leadoff spot in the lineup, and Ava Beasy had two hits and an RBI. Casey Webb had two hits and is 4 for 5 for the first two games of the sectional.

Pioneer struck out only once. They did not strike out at all in their 7-4 quarterfinal win over Winamac on Monday.

Layer was cruising through five innings with a 6-0 lead, and she retired Kaitlyn Honeycutt on a liner to Kennell at short to open the sixth before encountering trouble.

Elli Hall doubled and advanced to third on Lataya Judy’s single. Andi Conliff reached on an infield single with Judy moving to second and Hall holding at third.

Gretta France reached on an error, scoring Hall and reloading the bases. Olivia Burns then walked to force home a run and make it 6-2.

Then came the game’s most controversial call.

MyKenzie Renn hit a grounder on the left side of the field. Kennell positioned herself to field it in the baseline as France, the Wabash runner on second, attempted to advance. Kennell juggled the ball as France ran in the baseline.

The umpire called France for interference and declared her out, and Conliff was ordered back to third with Burns being awarded second base and Renn being awarded first.

Wabash coach Bob Stambazze briefly argued the call, but on the first pitch after play continued, Ella Hartley singled, scoring Conliff and Davis.

Renn advanced from first to third, and when the throw to try and get her at third was unsuccessful, Hartley cruised into second. It was 6-4, and the tying run was in scoring position.

But Layer responded by fanning Bakehorn and ending the inning.

Beasy led off the bottom half with a double and advanced to third on an error by the left fielder. Adeline Cripe’s squeeze bunt, an RBI groundout from Kennell and a bases loaded walk from Attinger highlighted a three-run inning that made it 9-4.

Layer then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to finish the game.

“She settled down, and our defense settled down, and then we just made the plays,” Pioneer coach Gabby Thomas said. “I think it helped that we came in and scored a few of those runs to cushion us a little bit more to then go out and play defense for her.”

Pioneer took a 2-0 lead in the second off Wabash starter Kalli Davis. Newby legged out a bunt single, Kennell was hit by a pitch, and Webb reached on a bunt hit to load the bases.

Renn, Wabash’s second baseman, caught Ott’s fly in shallow right, but Newby sped home on the short sacrifice fly.

Sells reached on an error, allowing Kennell to score.

In the third, Pioneer stretched the lead to 5-0 thanks to four singles and two walks. Kennell and Ott had RBI hits sandwiched around a wild pitch that allowed Newby to score.

Newby, a junior, said she started slap-hitting when she was in a 10-and-under league. She said that hitting a baseball is the only thing she does left-handed. 

“It was an easy transition for me because it was early rather than later,” Newby said of becoming a slap hitter.

She said an older slap hitter like Kylie Attinger can provide assistance if needed.

“If I need help or if I’m struggling with something, I can go to one of the older slappers,” Newby said.

She also said that Thomas talks often about putting pressure on the opposing team’s defense to “try to wear them out.”

Thomas said she told Newby the playing conditions would be ideal for her hitting style.

“I said at the beginning of the game, ‘Hey, look, this field plays hard. Don’t be afraid to drop that bunt or don't be afraid to hit that 5-6 hole with a little bounce. It’s going to move.”

Attinger led off with an infield single, stole second and scored on Beasy’s RBI double in the fourth to make it 6-0.

Pioneer 9, Wabash 4

Wabash 000 004 0 – 4 6 2

Pioneer 023 103 X – 9 15 1

WP – Lois Layer (7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)

LP – Kalli Davis (4 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)

2B – Elli Hall (WAB), Ava Beasy 2 (PIO)

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