Chesterton Tribune

Photo: Chesterton softball team finally punches ticket to Indy with win over Lake Central

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Regional Champions: The Chesterton girls softball team won its first Regional title and advanced to the state finals Friday night against Center Grove in Indianapolis with a 1-0 victory over Lake Central Saturday night at Merrillville. Pictured are, front row (l to r), Ashley Scheerer, Katie Stahura, Megan Hawkins, Amber Paz, Brittany Richardson and Ashley Thomas. Second row (l to r) are Kristin Mann, Ashley Aldridge, Misty Bottos, Dani Dummel, Dawn McClellan, Lauren Wright and Julie Farmer. Back row (l to r) are Assistant coach Dan Lynch, Laura Lange, Catie Armstrong, Amanda Staff, Nikki Gamblin, Emma Lawson and Head coach LouAnn Hopson. Not pictured is Alexis Paz.

(Tribune photo TR Harlan)

 

By TR HARLAN

It sure wasn’t easy to exorcise all those demons. But, the road to Indianapolis finally moved east from Lake Central to Chesterton.

The Trojans advanced to the state finals for the first time in school history with a gutty 1-0 victory over arch rival Lake Central Saturday night in the Merrillville Regional final.

“I can’t,” Chesterton coach LouAnn Hopson said when asked to put the victory in words. “Last year we left crying and I was annoyed with myself. I woke up Sunday morning convinced I had cost us the game.”

One year removed from a 1-0 loss to LC in the same game, the Trojans “new crew” of players got it done.

“This is just a great group of kids,” Hopson said. “We worked ourselves out of trouble three times.”

The Trojans put the game’s only run on the board in the second inning when Emma Lawson doubled to center field to lead off the frame.

“I had a bad game in the morning,” Lawson said. “I was just trying to protect the plate. I just watched the ball and swung hard.”

Dawn McClellan’s bunt was mishandled and thrown away down the right field line by LC pitcher Angie Funston and Lawson raced home.

“We were really loose before the game,” Hopson said. “We scored right away and relaxed even more.”

McClellan cruised through the first two innings retiring all six batters she faced with the use of her defense.

“I have the greatest middle infield,” McClellan said of shortstop Amber Paz and second baseman Julie Farmer. “Amber and Julie kept me settled down and just kept talking to me.”

LC threatened with back-to-back singles in the third, but didn’t score after two popups and McClellan’s first strike out of the game. She finished with five strike outs on the night.

The Trojans threatened themselves in the sixth but two out hits by Farmer and Paz didn’t turn into a run.

“We knew what we had to do today because we were here last year,” McClellan said. “It was always our goal to beat LC like this. They knew what I had. This is the third time I’ve pitched against them so I just had to step up my game 10 times more.”

She did just that in the sixth and seventh inning.

After Lake Central pitcher Angie Funston popped out to start the sixth, Alyssa Duncan walked and Michele Nero singled to center field. A strike out of Melissa Shofroth came before a solid single by Kate Golden to left field loaded the bases.

McClellan worked out of the jam by getting Ashley Michalski to ground back to her.

“Kristin (Mann) and coach called a great game,” McClellan said. “This is the biggest win I’ve ever had.”

Things got even tighter in the seventh inning.

“There was pressure on everybody,” Hopson said. “Are we going to stand-up to it or not?”

Allison Aguilera singled to start the seventh for LC. McClellan struck out Rachel Weaver before an infield single by Sarah Shields put runners on first and second. Funston singled deep in the hole at shortstop to load the bases with one out.

Duncan came to the plate with an impressive resume. She had gotten the game-winning hit in last year’s 1-0 victory for LC and hit a home run to win the state championship game in 2003.

McClellan and Duncan battled through a 12-pitch at bat that included six foul balls. McClellan would win the battle with a high fastball for the second out.

“I had a lot of adrenelin,” McClellan said. “I just dug down deep.”

Nero watched as the first three pitches from McClellan missed the strike zone.

“I realized things were getting smaller,” McClellan said. “I knew I just had to throw a strike. Amber and Julie came in and calmed me down again.”

A called strike was followed by a ground ball to Brittany Richardson and third base. She fielded it and fired across the diamond to Lawson to set off the celebration.

“We had a little case of nerves out there,” Hopson said of the late LC rally. “Dawn stuck it out and the defense made the plays.”

The Trojans will face off against Center Grove, a 1-0 winner over Carmel, on Friday night at 7:30 Chesterton time. The game will be played at the Cherry Tree Softball Complex in Carmel.

“We wanted to show everyone we could do it,” Lawson said. “We’re so excited. We did this for our seniors.”

The other semifinal matches Kokomo against Martinsville beginning at 5:30 p.m. Chesterton time. The winners will face off for the state championship on Saturday night at 6:30 Chesterton time.

Chesterton 010 000 0 – 1 4 1

Lake Central 000 000 0 – 0 6 1

2B—Emma Lawson (C); Kate Golden (LC). Pitching summary—Chesterton—Dawn McClellan (7 IP, 6 H, 5 K, 1 BB); Lake Central—Angie Funston (7 IP, 4 H, 7 K, 1 BB). WP—McClellan (21-0). LP—Funston (17-4).

Regional Semifinals

Chesterton 1, South Bend Riley 0

Katie Stahura’s single to right field in the second inning scored Dawn McClellan with the game’s only run in Chesterton’s 1-0 victory over South Bend Riley in Saturday morning Merrillville Regional semifinal.

McClellan singled up the middle with one out in the second and moved to second base when Ashley Scheerer was hit by a pitch.

In the pitching circle, McClellan struck out nine and allowed just three hits in picking up the victory.

Chesterton 010 000 0 – 1 4 0

South Bend Riley 000 000 0 – 0 3 2

Pitching summary—Chesterton—Dawn McClellan (7 IP, 3 H, 9 K, 2 BB); South Bend Riley—Danielle Campbell (7 IP, 4 H, 6 K, 0 BB). WP—McClellan. LP—Campbell.

 

Posted 6/5/2006

 

 

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