Andrean returns to the softball finals
By Mark Smith email@example.com June 5, 2012 1:52PM
Andrean's Kaitlin Barajas crosses home plate on a grand slam hit by Brenna Boyle during the softball regional championship game against Griffith on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Griffith. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Andrean 7, Woodlan 1
ANDREAN (27-4) 2021 020 === 7-9- 0
WOODLAN (31-2) 0000 01 === 1-4-2
6-2-12, 65 degrees - Twin Lakes Class 3A Semistate Championship
WP - Nicole Steinbach (25-2) CG, 9K, 1 walk
LP - Hannah Robbins (31-2) CG, 11K, 2 walks
Savannah Kinsella (2B) 1-for-3, walk
Kaitlin Barajas (3B) 3-for-4, HR, double, 3 RBIs
Morghyn Neal (C) 2-for-4, double, HR, 2 RBIs
Nicole Steinbach (P) 1-for-3, walk, RBI
Brenna Boyle (SS) 0-for-4
Madison Lesch (LF) 1-for-4
Catherine Murad (CF) 0-for-3, sac bunt
Johnna Rodish (RF) 0-for-4
Katie Crandol (DH) 0-for-4
Lauren Ehle (C) 0-for-3
Halkey Hostetler (2B) 0-for-2, HBP
Mandy Hostetler (CF) 1-for-2, double, walk
Logan Smead (DH) 0-for-3, RBI
Hannah Robbins (P) 0-for-3
Burgundy Price (1B) 2-for-3
Morgan Franklin (LF) 0-for-3
Lauren Braaten (SS) 1-for-3
Erika Brandeker (RF) 0-for-3
Updated: June 5, 2012 3:36PM
MONTICELLO — On the surface, Andrean rolled over 3A No. 1 Woodlan Saturday in the Class 3A Twin Lakes championship game because senior star Nicole Steinbach pitched a four-hitter with nine strikeouts.
In equal parts, the 59ers won because Kaitlin Barajas and Morghyn Neal hit home runs off Woodlan star pitcher Hannah Robbins.
But it went deeper than that. If one game displays anything, it was that Andrean (28-4) was stronger and more experienced and schooled by a tougher schedule.
Just what they’d hoped to be.
Andrean, which lost the 2011 state championship game to Roncalli last June, never trailed and never had much doubt in the 7-1 win over 3A No. 2 Woodlan (31-2) behind Steinbach, who allowed just four singles and one walk in her second complete game of the day.
Steinbach had pitched a four-hit complete game earlier in the day in a 3-2 win over Yorktown, sparked by a home run from junior Savanna Kinsella.
The Niners are not surprised they are back in the state finals.
“We’ve been playing together,” said Neal. “We have her (motioning at Steinbach). We know how to play.”
Steinbach agreed the season has been a march to return to the championship game but that reality isn’t all good.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “Because it’s going to be my last game no matter what.”
Neal, the 59ers’ catcher, admitted to being a little uneasy after watching a little of Woodlan’s 13-4 victory over South Bend St. Joseph’s in the morning semistate semifinals. But only after her pitcher spilled the beans on her.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Steinbach said, looking at her catcher. “But I know she was.”
“I was a little bit nervous,” Neal admitted, looking back at Steinbach. “But OK, look at you. Nobody can ever hit you. They’re going to put it in play but we’ve got the defense to back it up. So it’s OK.”
The home runs by Barajas, Andrean’s senior third baseman and Neal, their junior catcher, were no-doubt drives, pulled to left field off Woodlan junior right-hander Hannah Robbins (31-2), who had lost just once (and allowed only 21 total runs) all season.
Robbins had pitched 19 shutouts in 33 starts, but leadoff batter Savannah Kinsella reached base on an error and came home on a one-out home run by Neal to left field.
Robbins, pitching for the second time in the day (Woodlan topped St. Joseph’s 11-4 in the semistate semifinals) gave up a leadoff double to Kinsella in the third inning, starting another two-run rally. Kaitlin Barajas smacked an RBI single and she eventually scored on a bases-loaded bunt by Madison Lesch.
“Everything went right today,” said Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon, who will attempt to become the first NWI alum to ever play on (2002 at Lake Central) and coach a state champion.
“Scoring early and often — we scored almost every inning. We’re coming together as a team. They’re starting to grasp everything at the right time.
“I felt that anywhere but the state championship game was obviously a let down for the girls. I had to do everything in my power to get them here.
“Now, I have to give them a chance to win. The seniors have been there two times but they haven’t won it, and they deserve it.”
As Brooke Baker, who was the Indiana Player of the Year in 2003 and a member of Lake Central’s 2002 state championship team, Runyon pitched with a smile on her face.
Steinbach, who has a record of 47-5 in the last two seasons, has a “poker face” stare at batters. It’s not easy to see if she’s happy or sad, peaceful or mad.
“I can’t tell,” Runyon admitted in the post-game celebartion Saturday in Monticello. “I can’t tell when she’s upset but I can tell when she’s more determined. You saw that a lot in this last game because this is the last hurrah for her. She’s not letting this go easy.”
This will be the sixth state championship game appearance for Andrean, the 1998 and 2007 state 3A champion.
The Niner seniors have one chance to right a wrong here. Andrean lost the 3A state championship game 10-0 to New Palestine in June of 2009 and Andrean lost the 2011 state championship 8-0 to Roncalli. No one should lose three state title games.
Runyon, who has a practice routine called “perfect 21” says her girls are ready.
Perfect 21 is a scrimmage where the girls have to make 21 consecutive defensive plays without an error or they have to start over. It simulates the pressure of a game.
“They get Monday off and then we’ll just do the perfect 21 every day and get ready.
“Perfect 21 is something I learned in college (at Purdue) and it’s the best thing for getting a team ready.
“If they don’t have everything down by now, they’re not going to get it.”
SEMISTATE NOTES: There may have been a reason that Woodlan, a school near the Ohio state line east of Fort Wayne, was overmatched against Andrean.
The Warriors were 26-3 as a Class 2A school last year, losing 5-1 to South Putnam in the state championship game. Woodlan, from the Allen County Athletic Conference, topped Hebron 3-0 on its way to the state championship game before moving up in class, much like Hanover Central, this season.
Hanover, a 2A sectional champ in 2011, lost three ties to Andrean this year including the Sectional 18 Class 3A semifinals.
Andrean was not worried about Woodlan.
“They were 30-1,” said cpach Brooke Baker-Runyon, “but we looked at their schedule and their strength of schedule was. I dont wnat to say ‘weak’.
.”I was concerned that they hit the ball (against St,. Joseph’s) but I didnt think they’d seen anyone like Nikki (Steinbach) this year.”
“They were very disciplined but