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Six and counting

By ZACK ELDRIDGE Staff Writer 1-219-326-3869 zeldridge@heraldargus.comMay 24, 2019

BOURBON — While South Central’s softball team certainly isn’t taking this sectional title for granted, it still is striving for more.

It wants to add another regional championship to the program’s resume and advance as far as it can in the postseason, hopefully culminating with the ultimate prize, a coveted state crown.

But first, the Satellites had to claim another sectional trophy, their program-record sixth consecutive.

South Central broke a 1-1 tie and went ahead for good in the third inning, and tallied five more runs in the sixth, defeating West Central 8-1 in the Class A Triton Sectional final at Keyser Field on Thursday.

“This is my first sectional title, but it definitely feels good,” the Satellites’ Delanie Gale said. “We’re all expecting it, but the big trophy, that’s what we want.”

A day after erupting for 21 runs in a 21-0 drubbing of the host Trojans, South Central (22-5) was in a competitive game with West Central (8-16) until the sixth.

“We knew it was going to be a little bit tougher than Wednesday obviously,” S.C. coach Tony Wallace said. “Holly (Noveroske) pitched really well tonight. She kept the walks down and had several strikeouts. And we had good defense. Other than the one in left field that shuttered over our head...”

In the sixth, the Satellites turned a 3-1 lead into a commanding seven-run margin. They plated five runs and ripped five hits in the inning in batting around.

McKenzie Hudspeth belted an RBI double down the right-field line, and Skyler Wildfong scored from third on third baseman’s Emma Nielsen’s throwing error. Mackenzie Lenze followed with an RBI single to left, while Gale smacked a two-run double off the right-center field wall. That pushed S.C.’s advantage to 8-1.

“The patience was key,” Wallace said. “We got the first couple of runners on. They all contributed there. They were putting the ball in play.”

Noveroske began the sixth-inning rally with a single.

Gale, only a freshman, paced South Central offensively on the day, finishing 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and four RBI.

She had what proved to be the game-winning hit, ripping a tie-breaking, two-run homer to left center field in the third. That put S.C. ahead 3-1. She drove in Faith Biggs, who drew her second leadoff walk.

“After my first at-bat when I struck out looking, the home run definitely got me back where I usually am,” Gale said. “When the double came, we started rolling again and it made it a lot easier for everybody to have confidence in themselves.”

It was Gale’s 13th home run of the season.

The eight runs of support was more than enough for Noveroske, who notched the victory.

The sophomore right-hander gave up one unearned run, scattering five hits in going the distance. Noveroske (18-4) finished with nine strikeouts and a mere one walk.

“She’s been working on her delivery, exploding off the mound a little bit more,” Wallace said. “Her own worst enemy is herself because she doesn’t like to fail. That’s why you see her constantly practicing. She wants to be perfect about it. She takes it very seriously.”

After West Central knotted the score 1-1 in the second on an unearned run, Noveroske let only one base runner reach second the rest of the way. And she worked a quick 1-2-3 seventh to seal the sectional title.

“I tried to keep my speed up, and then, my location good,” Noveroske said. “And I knew if there was a hit, my defense was behind me.

“It’s really great we won. I came in here knowing we were going to do pretty good, so it wasn’t really surprising. And I’m ready to keep going.”

The Satellites didn’t initially celebrate after the final out, though, due to the fact they were expecting to win. They simply lined up to shake hands with the opponent.

Freshman Emily Pilarski recorded the setback for the Trojans, allowing eight runs, five earned, on eight hits. She fanned nine and walked three in seven innings.

S.C. plated a run in the first without the benefit of a hit. Faith Biggs walked leading off, stole second, and scored after she stole third and catcher Caitlynn Brigman’s errant throw to third trying to throw out Biggs. That made it 1-0.

West Central responded in the bottom of the second. Nielsen singled, moved to third on Brigman’s double, and scored on first baseman Marissa Carr’s fielding error. That tied it 1-1, until Gale’s blast in the third.

The Satellites next face Fremont on the road in a one-game regional on Tuesday at a to-be-determined time.

While South Central was still basking in this win, it still is hungry for more.

“It feels really good,” Wallace said. “It’s kind of wild, because you think, ‘No one’s ever done this before.’ Every year you’re setting a new record of some sort, which is kind of a neat feeling. We hope to go further.”

Class A Triton Sectional

Final

South Central 8, West Central 1

Satellites’ freshman Delanie Gale went 2-for-4 with a homer, a double and four RBI.

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