When the IHSAA
released the postseason softball draw this season, Chesterton senior Shelby
Grimm paid attention to one particular potential sectional title opponent:
That matchup came
to fruition earlier this week when Chesterton knocked off Hobart and
Portage, while Valparaiso dispatched Michigan City.
The Vikings struck
first on Thursday afternoon, but the Trojans recovered to score five runs
off four Valparaiso errors in the third inning on their way to a 6-2
travel to the winner of the Crown Point sectional on Tuesday evening in
“There was some
excitement when I saw Valparaiso could be our opponent,” Grimm said. “I know
that we always play really well against them. It’s always one of our biggest
games and we always are focused for them.”
The Trojans kept
their focus despite Valparaiso jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead. Leadoff
hitter Maya Seifert singled and then advanced to third off a wild pitch and
an error. She later scored when Alex Burns delivered an RBI double.
Grimm got as far as
third base in the first inning for the Trojans, but couldn’t score. The same
happened to Micaela Iacovetti in the second inning, but Valparaiso pitcher
Emily Glover once again got out of the jam.
The Trojans finally
broke through in the third inning with five runs as Valparaiso’s defense
fell apart. Chesterton’s first three batters reached via error before Lexi
Benko delivered the first hit of the inning. By the time the damage was
done, Chesterton’s first six batters reached base and five runs crossed the
Valparaiso and Chesterton, all bets are off,” Valparaiso coach Tracy Corneil
said. “I thought we could win if we did three things. We needed good plate
appearances and we needed to stay calm. We did both of those things. We also
needed to play good defense and we didn’t do that.”
The Vikings got a
run back in the fourth inning off a sacrifice fly, but that also started a
stretch of 11 straight batters that Chesterton pitcher Lexi Benko retired to
end the game. Benko also added a solo home run in the sixth inning for a
little more insurance.
“You just have to
act like it’s any other game,” Benko said. “It’s the championship, the
Sectional and the adrenaline is going to be racing.”
The victory gives
Chesterton its second straight sectional title and the 10th overall in
program history. It was a subdued celebration after the game that was
highlighted by Grimm going over to the Valparaiso team and asking them to
join the Trojans for a postgame photograph.
There were lots of
hugs and tears between the two rivals following the photograph.
“It was nice
because people do see us as rivals,” Grimm said. “We all live close to each
other and a lot of us are friends. People need to remember at the end of the
day, it’s still just girls playing a game against one another.”
SCORING BY INNINGS
Valparaiso 100 100
0 -- 2 5 5
Chesterton 005 010
x -- 6 7 0
2B -- Alex Burns,
Emily Glover (V). HR -- Lexi Benko (C). Pitching Summary -- Valparaiso --
Glover (6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB); Chesterton -- Benko (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 SO).
WP -- Lexi Benko. LP -- Emily Glover.