• Val T.

You’re going to hear me roar: Despite ailing knee, Perry keys 6-run rally, leads Winamac past Hebron

E. Gearhart hits homer No. 18, A. Gearhart earns win as Winamac avenged earlier loss


Sports Editor, RTC

WINAMAC –- Winamac senior softball player Catie Perry had not had the most enjoyable first four innings to her team’s Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal against Hebron at Winamac Town Park Monday.

She had struck out in her first two at-bats. And she also needed medical attention on the field after she said she dislocated her right kneecap before it popped back into place while playing third base.

Perry, who had four hits in a 10-winning win over Delphi Friday in the regular season finale, knew the adjustment she needed to make.

Catie Perry

She knew she needed to start her bat earlier to catch up to Hebron freshman pitcher Brooke Cunningham’s speed.

She also knew she needed to widen her stance in the batter’s box and shorten her pivot because of the pain.

And with her team trailing 5-3 and the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the fifth, her night turned around completely. Perry lashed a line drive to the left-center field fence for a game-tying two-run single, and Winamac tacked on four more runs in the inning and went on to a 9-6 win.

The loss avenged a 6-0 loss to Cunningham and Hebron back on April 8.

“We knew we wanted to lay off anything high,” Winamac coach Jennifer Belcher said. “And she had this nice rise ball, this nice pitch that she throws up in the zone. I think we were just a little more relaxed because that’s exactly what we were trying to do the first two times through the order too.”

Ella Gearhart hit her 18th homer and also drove in two runs for Winamac. Emma Goodman drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single. McKenzie Hinz and Samantha Perry also had RBI singles in the fifth.

Kaya Campell contributed an RBI double. Aubrey Gearhart singled, doubled and scored twice.

Aubrey Gearhart, a senior lefty, allowed 12 hits in the circle – two hits in each of the last six innings – but got the win.

With Winamac leading 9-5 in the seventh, she got Cunningham on a grounder to Alexis Sheets at short and Meadow Fornuto on a fly to center to start the inning, but Abbi Anderson and Madelyn Heck both singled. A wild pitch put runners on second and third.

Aubrey Gearhart then struck out Emily Michalak on a pitch in the dirt, but the ball went to the backstop for a wild pitch, which allowed Anderson to score and Michalak to reach first.

Aubrey Gearhart then made a nifty backhanded flip to Goodman at first on slap-hitting Heidi Pena’s soft grounder for the final out.

Winamac improved to 22-7 and earned a spot against North Judson, who received a bye, in Tuesday’s semifinal. Winamac is ranked No. 15 in the final Class 2A coaches poll of the year that was released Tuesday.

Hebron, the Porter County Conference co-champion who started six freshmen Monday, finished 17-9. They were ranked No. 6 in the final coaches poll of the year.

Now facing Cunningham the third time through the order, Aubrey Gearhart started the Winamac half of the fifth with a double to right-center. Sheets reached on an error, which moved Aubrey Gearhart to third. Ella Gearhart walked to load the bases.

That brought up Catie Perry.

“I just shortened up and got the bat through the zone quicker,” Perry said. “Her rise ball is pretty good. She pitched a lot of outside to us tonight, but I think we hit off of her well tonight though.”

Catie Perry was so hobbled that she could only reach first after her hit, even though the ball traveled to the fence. Aubrey Gearhart and Sheets scored, and Ella Gearhart went to third.

Isabelle Decker came in to run for Catie Perry and stole second.

Perry said she has had a similar injury to her left knee before which resulted in a fractured kneecap.

“My knees are a little sore, but right now, I think I’m just going to go home and rest and be prepared for tomorrow against San Pierre,” Catie Perry said. “I just twisted it a little weird, and it just popped out. It dislocated and relocated. It’s called a subluxation.”

Goodman then lined a single to right to score Ella Gearhart and move Decker to third and give Winamac a 6-5 lead. Goodman then stole second.

Hinz’s fly to shallow right-center dropped in for a hit to bring home Decker and move Goodman to third. Hinz advanced to second on the throw home.

Samantha Perry then hit a soft looper to shallow center for another RBI single to score Goodman and make it 8-5.

Maggie Smith’s RBI grounder to shortstop made it 9-5.

Winamac struck out nine times combined the first two times through the order against Cunningham. The third and fourth times through the order, they did not strike out.

“I really think I can look at the Delphi game we played Friday night, to go 10 innings, and we were down in that one and battled back to tie it and in the 10th made some things happen to get the win, I just think that builds our confidence,” Belcher said. “They just came back from being down Friday night to get the win tonight, so they knew they could do it.”

Ella Gearhart’s two-run homer to center in the first clanked off the scoreboard and made it 2-0.

Campbell’s RBI double down the left field line made it 3-0.

Michalak’s RBI single in the bottom half made it 3-1, and Meadow Fornuto tied it with a two-run double in the third.

Michalak gave Hebron their first lead with a solo homer in the fourth, and Molly Friel later added an RBI single to make it 5-3.

Winamac 9, Hebron 6

Winamac 210 060 0 9 10 3

Hebron 012 200 1 6 12 1

WP – Aubrey Gearhart (7 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K)

LP – Brooke Cunningham (7 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 9 K)

2B – Kaya Campbell (WIN), Emma Goodman (WIN), Aubrey Gearhart (WIN), Meadow Fornuto (HEB)

HR – Ella Gearhart (WIN), Emily Michalak (HEB)

Aubrey Gearhart Ella Gearhart Emma Goodman

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