Winning with Stiles: Sophomore pitches 3-hitter, doubles home 2 in Valley softball sectional win
Haughs gets RBI, but Lady Zs finish 10-15
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WABASH –- The Tippecanoe Valley softball team lost its regular season finale to Warsaw 3-2 Friday, but coach Brittany Mathias liked the way that sophomore Corinna Stiles pitched in that game that she chose to start her in the Lady Vikings’ Class 2A, Sectional 37 semifinal game against Rochester Tuesday.
Stiles rewarded her faith.
Stiles pitched a three-hitter, and she also had the go-ahead two-run double in the bottom of the first to lead Valley to a 4-1 and a berth in the sectional final.
“Corinna, she’s very confident,” Valley coach Brittany Mathias said. “She’s been working on different pitches and stuff. She is one of those girls that doesn't give up on herself. And she doesn’t really get flustered in her head.”
Brittany Benn went 3 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. Molly Moriarty added a pair of singles. Madi Smith had a sacrifice fly.
Emma Howdeshell led off the game with a double for the Lady Zs. That was their lone extra-base hit. Sydney Haughs had a single and an RBI, and Mya Musselman reached on an infield single.
Musselman took the loss in the circle. She allowed seven hits and three runs over four innings. She walked none and struck out two.
Emma Sells allowed one run in two innings of relief.
“I would say that they capitalized on the opportunities that they had, and we really didn’t have great appearances at the plate, and I think that’s what kind of held us back tonight,” Rochester coach Becky Lee said.
Valley, who also beat Rochester 7-5 in their Three Rivers Conference meeting at Fansler Field on May 3, improved to 13-14. Rochester finished 10-15.
Trailing 1-0, Brayden Baney led off the bottom of the first with a bloop double that evaded the diving Howdeshell at shortstop along the third baseline.
Moriarty then hit a hit grounder in the hole on the left side. Howdeshell gloved it, but her throw to try and get Baney at third was late.
Stiles then cranked a deep double to left to score Baney and Moriarty. Stiles was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, but Valley had their lead.
Benn’s RBI double in the third delivered Moriarty to the plate to make it 3-1. Howdeshell also threw out Benn trying to stretch that into a triple.
Rochester had runners on first and second with one out in both the fourth and fifth.
In the fourth, Stiles struck out Carlee Blackburn looking and got Emma Goodman on a short popup back to the circle to escape that jam.
In the fifth, Stiles fanned Watson on perhaps the game’s most controversial call. Watson appeared to foul a pitch off with two strikes, but the home plate umpire said that a swing and a miss with two strikes is a strikeout even if the pitch hits the batter.
At issue was whether the hand is part of the bat, according to Lee.
“He said her hands are not a part of the bat,” Lee said. “And that because the ball hit her hands and the bat, then it was an automatic strike and she was out. Even though it went foul, it doesn’t matter. She was just automatically out.”
Stiles then got Kylie Coleman on a grounder to Macy Kirchenstien at second to end the inning.
Stiles hit pinch-hitter Chloe Nichols with a pitch to start the seventh, but she struck out Sells, got Musselman to ground to second and Howdeshell to ground back to the circle to end it.
In addition to Stiles, Mathias also credited sophomore catcher Madi Smith.
“Madi does a really good job of calling the game,” Mathias said. “We coaches don’t have to do it because Madi and (backup catcher) Kayleena (Agnew) both call really good games. They just know the hitters… and know what to do in certain counts.”
Howdeshell roped a double to left-center to lead off the game. Watson struck out. Coleman grounded back to Stiles, who threw to third to try and get Howdeshell, but the throw was dropped and Rochester had runners at the corners with one out. Coleman stole second.
Haughs then grounded out to Kayleena Agnew at first with Howdeshell scoring. Stiles struck out Maddie Heinzmann to strand Coleman at third.
Of the 11 players on Rochester’s team, nine had never played a high school softball game before. Lee was hired in October after basketball practice had begun, which gave her little time to work with the players prior to the start of practice in March.
“I think that we’ve had a lot of growth,” Lee said. “I’m very proud of how much we have learned and developed in the different players. (We have) seen them do incredible things that I don’t even know that they thought they could do themselves. So I think our growth is the biggest point on the season.”
The win was Valley’s first in a sectional game since a 9-4 win over NorthWood in a Class 3A sectional in 2013. Valley has not won a sectional title since 1992.
Valley will play Whitko in the sectional final at 7 p.m. Thursday. Whitko knocked off Lewis Cass 6-0 in the first semifinal Tuesday.
Valley beat Whitko 5-1 on May 12 in their TRC meeting.
Tippecanoe Valley 4, Rochester 1
Rochester 100 000 0 – 1 3 1
Valley 201 001 X – 4 9 1
WP – Corinna Stiles (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 9 K)
LP – Mya Musselman (4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)
2B – Emma Howdeshell (RHS), Brayden Baney (TV), Corinna Stiles (TV), Brittany Benn 2 (TV)