Rising ‘2’ the challenge: Pioneer wins 21st softball sectional, but first in Class 2A
Lady Panthers amass 19 hits in rout of Winamac
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Madison Blickenstaff had two hits and four RBIs, and Mackenzie Walker, Kylie Attinger, Kylie Farris and Brooklyn Borges had three hits each to lead the Pioneer softball team to a 17-2 win in five innings over Winamac in the Class 2A, Sectional 34 final at Winamac Town Park Thursday.
Pioneer, ranked No. 1, won their 19th consecutive game and improved to 31-2.
Aubrey Gearhart homered, and Ella Gearhart had an RBI double for No. 15 Winamac, who finished 23-8.
The sectional title is Pioneer’s 21st in school history but their first in Class 2A. They had previously won three single-class sectional titles and 17 sectionals in Class 1A.
Pioneer has also won the sectional in each of the last five state tournaments. Pioneer has not lost a sectional game since a 5-1 loss to North Miami in the 2015 Class 1A sectional final at North White.
Eight different Pioneer players had a hit, and nine different players had an RBI.
Walker and Attinger had three RBIs each. Farris, Borges, Emma Novaski, Crystabelle Blickenstaff, Hailey Cripe and Hailey Gotshall had one RBI each.
Novaski and Gotshall contributed two hits each, and Cripe also had a hit.
Cripe got the win in the circle. She allowed three hits and two runs in five innings. She walked six and struck out seven.
Pioneer did not commit an error.
All three Winamac hits went for extra bases. Aubrey Gearhart’s homer was her 13th, and McKenzie Hinz also doubled.
Alexis Sheets and Catie Perry walked twice each. Aubrey Gearhart and Emma Goodman walked once each.
Aubrey Gearhart allowed 14 hits and 17 runs in four innings. She walked five and struck out two. Winamac committed four errors which led to nine unearned runs.
Pioneer scored 13 runs in the bottom of the third to take a 14-1 lead. They tacked on three more runs in the fourth.
Pioneer will play Illiana Christian, Wheeler or Lake Station on the road on Tuesday in the regional. Wheeler will play Lake Station at 11 a.m. Eastern Saturday at Wheeler in a Class 2A, Sectional 33 semifinal. The winner will play Illiana Christian in the final at 11 a.m. Eastern Monday.
Pioneer 17, Winamac 2
Winamac 001 01 – 2 3 4
Pioneer 01(13) 3X – 17 14 0
WP – Hailey Cripe (5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 7 K)
LP – Aubrey Gearhart (4 IP, 14 H, 17 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 2 K)
2B – Mackenzie Walker 2 (PIO), Ella Gearhart (WIN), McKenzie Hinz (WIN)
3B – Kylie Attinger (PIO)
HR – Aubrey Gearhart (WIN)