BETHANY – The other dugout came in with the reputation for making a lot of noise at the plate.
Instead it was Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg that sprayed the ball around, notching 13 hits, getting contributions all up and down the lineup.
And no hit may have been bigger than the shortest one, a ball that may have gone six feet but kickstarted a five-run inning as Windsor made it look easy in its 9-1 Class 1A Okaw Valley Sectional championship game on Saturday morning.
“I am as happy as can be,” Windsor pitcher Calla Roney said. “Our team had a gameplan, we executed the gameplan. It was fantastic.”
What made it more fantastic was that the largest contributions came from the bottom of the Windsor lineup. Batters six through nine went 8-of-16 with seven runs scored.
“The bottom of the order did a really, really nice job putting the ball in play, getting hits in crucial times,” Roney said. “That five-run inning was started by the six hitter.”
The reward for a sectional title is a spot in Monday's Springfield Super-sectional. The opponent will be two-time defending state champion Hardin Calhoun and all-state pitcher Grace Baalman.
But if the bats stay as hot as they have been in postseason – the Hatchets have scored 38 runs in the four games – why not?
“They did what they needed to do,” Windsor coach Brittany Holsapple said. “They got baserunners on and I told them if they can get on base, we'll get them around.”
That part wasn't exactly according to gameplan.
After an out to start the second, the Hatchets got hits from Madison Everett and Mackenze Reynolds. Katrina Davis came to bat to sacrifice them over. But her bunt attempt was popped up right in front of the plate.
However, three ALAH players converged, then stopped and watched the ball fall to load the bases.
ALAH then tried to get a force at home on a ground ball by Ava Bennett, but the throw was wide and two runs scored.
Carson Cole reached on a two-base error, stole second, stole third and scored the inning's fifth run on a sacrifice bunt by Megan Schlechte.
“Thats a big sigh of relief as a pitcher,” Roney said. “I got these five runs, I can just go out and do my thing then.”
She did. Roney limited the Knights to five hits and she struck out seven.
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Been there, done that
This Windsor bunch won't be in awe of big-game situations. The top five hitters in the lineup were also members of the Hatchets volleyball team that took third in state in November.
And many on the softball team were on the eighth grade team that won a sectional title two years ago.
ALAH closed its season at 21-4 with an inexplicable outing.
Not only were the bats quieted, but the normally sound defense let down the Knights several times.
Perhaps the most disappointing came when they had Cole caught in a rundown in that second inning. After several throws, Cole not only was safe, but she got the extra base.
Windsor put the game away with three runs in the seventh -- thanks in part to another error.
“Defense has always been one of our strengths. No doubt about it,” ALAH coach Jerry Lane said. “To have things like that happen, that kind of bothered us a little bit. Things were happening that don't normally happen.”
Wait 'til next year
Lane has reason to believe the Knights will have a chance next year to get another shot. ALAH this season started four sophomores, two juniors and a freshman.
“I told them it's a learning experience,” Lane said. “What they saw here today is something I want in their memory. And I want them to be able to build on this next year and we'll take it another step farther.”
Cole also came up with the play of the day. ALAH's Shelby Frederick roped a shot into the left-centerfield gap.
But Cole on a dead run, laid out completely and snatched the ball just before it hit the turf.