Lady Pacers win Sectional Championship; ready for Regional Saturday at Shenandoah

28

The Switzerland County Lady Pacer softball team earned its second sectional championship in the past three years last Wednesday evening with a 10-0 victory over North Decatur in five innings.

After suffering through some quiet bats in the first two stanzas, the Lady Pacers started hitting in the bottom of the third inning when Ashley Bright singled and Jennifer South slammed a triple to right. Rachel Rodgers then slapped a line drive single between the shortstop and second base to bring home Morgan Ross, who was running for Jennifer South.

Tanya Sefton then hit a shot to third that the Lady Chargers couldn’t handle; and Ashley Chase pounded a long sacrifice fly to rightfield that brought home both Rachel Rodgers and Tanya Sefton.

Natalie Daugherty then collected an RBI when she singled to bring in Ashley Chase. Natalie Daugherty then stole second and went to third when Natalie Graham hit a infield sacrifice grounder. Kodi Driver followed by hitting a sacrifice to bring Natalie Daugherty in to score.

Courtney Cole and Ashley Bright each reached base on Lady Charger errors. The third out in the inning came when Jennifer South popped the ball up, but it was mishandled by the Lady Chargers. Jennifer South was safe at first, but Courtney Cole was tagged out at the plate on a controversial call for the final out of the inning.

Although the last out of the inning was disputed, the six runs that had already scored were more than enough to take the win. The Lady Chargers were not able to score off of Lady Pacer mound ace Kodi Driver, who earned her third win of the Sectional tournament.

The Lady Pacers scored again in the fifth inning, when senior Natalie Graham walked in front of Kodi Driver, who singled. The hit was fumbled by the Charger second baseman, allowing both runners to reach base safely.

Courtney Cole was then safe when the Lady Charger first baseman fumbled the ball, and runner Melissa Raisor (running for Natalie Graham) scored on the play.

Ashley Bright was safe at first thanks to some indecision on a Lady Charger and brought home Megan McCarty, who was running for Kodi Driver.

After the first out of the inning, Rachel Rodgers was able reach first on a fielder’s choice, giving the Lady Pacers two outs.

Tanya Sefton then walked to load the bases; and Ashley Chase hit a hard grounder to second that scored both Ashley Bright and Rachel Rodgers with the sectional championship runs.

While the last two Lady Pacers were crossing the plate, a confusing play was happening on the basepaths, as runner Tanya Sefton and a North Decatur fielder collided near second base. North Decatur coach Sam Field argued the call, believing that Tanya Sefton should have been called out on the interference play, which would have nulified the two game-ending runs. The umpire’s call stood that no interference occurred, and he 10-run rule was called and the game was over.

The Switzerland County Lady Pacers were the Sectional Champions.

The celebration was underway as the girls piled up on the field and then Coach Steven Konkle was dowsed in water; and a few players took a dive in the resulting mud. The trophy was then presented to the Lady Pacers. The team was then escorted by fire trucks and police cars in a parade around town with lights and sirens going.

Kodi Driver pitched the five innings for the Lady Pacers to earn the win. She finished the season with an overall record of 16-3 — and was a perfect 3-0 in the sectional. In the championship game, she allowed only one hit while recording eight strikeouts and allowing no walks. She faced only 16 batters — on eover the minimum — during the title game.

“Once again there were many big plays and hits by various players,” Coach Konkle said following the win. “Kodi Driver got stronger through the tourney. What a it is joy to coach these girls.”

The Lady Pacer coach also praised the total team effort that brought the championship home.

“In the championship game, the bottom of the order got it going, as Jennifer South had a big triple in the third; which led to the six runs,” the coach said. “Ashley Chase had a triple and a base hit for four RBI. I can’t be more proud of the way our players played the entire tournament. We also had great fan support for the Sectional. Our seniors were deserving of this championship.”

The Lady Pacers will be playing Union County this Saturday, June 3rd at the Shenandoah Regional.