Softball: Andrean wins third state title
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or email@example.com June 9, 2012 9:14PM
Andrean celebrates their victory on the field. The Andrean High School Fighting 59ers defeated the Edgewood Mustangs in the 2012 IHSAA Softball State Finals to take home the State Championship Title in Class 3A at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis Saturday, June 9, 2012. | Doug McSchooler~for the Post-Tribune
Updated: July 11, 2012 10:35AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Coming into Saturday’s Class 3A softball state final against Edgewood, Andrean had a streak of 15 scoreless innings in the championship game dating back to the last three innings of the 59ers’ victory in the 2007 final.
They had been shut out in their last two runner-up efforts in 2009 and 2011, one of them a mercy-rule loss in five innings.
That streak came to an end just three batters into Saturday’s game.
It was obliterated by the end of the first half inning as Andrean came ready to hit the ball early, often and hard.
The 59ers scored six runs in the first inning. They scored two more in the second frame.
That was more than enough for starting pitcher Nikki Steinbach — she only gave up 11 earned runs in her previous 26 starts this season — as Andrean rolled to a 9-2 victory.
It’s the third softball crown for the 59ers (28-4), tying them with Lake Central for the most of any Northwest Indiana school and second-most in the 28-year history of the IHSAA tourney behind Center Grove’s five.
It was quite the opposite from a year earlier, when Roncalli throttled Andrean 8-0. It was almost as if the 59ers had revenge on their minds with a different opponent on the other side.
“Last year we were really nervous, but this time we knew it was our year,” said Steinbach, who had 11 strikeouts in the complete game effort.
In addition to another stellar pitching performance from the Ball State-bound pitcher, Steinbach contributed to the explosive start on offense.
Savvy Kinsella led off with a walk on four pitches. Kaitlin Barajas followed with a scalded single to left field. Morghyn Neal singled to right field and both Kinsella and Barajas scored when the Edgewood right fielder let the ball get away, and then the catcher dropped the throw when Barajas scored.
Back-to-back doubles from Steinbach and Brenna Boyle drove in the next two runs. Boyle and Cat Murad also scored to give Andrean a huge lead after a half inning.
“We like being the visitors, hitting first,” Steinbach said. “I just knew we were going to win after that inning.”
Kinsella and Barajas added hits to lead off the second inning — Barajas’ was a double — and they eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Neal and a single from Boyle.
Scoring the first eight runs can ease any pressure they might have felt heading into the game, but most of the players said there just wasn’t any because of the atmosphere surrounding the close-knit squad.
“We’re all good friends and care for each other,” Boyle said. “We were more confident this year.”
Also much more relaxed. Before the game, the National Anthem wasn’t played since the IHSAA only has it before the first game of the day (1A state final). So a group of the players sang it anyway.
“I guess they’re just diehard Americans,” Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon joked.
Turns out the singing group that included Kinsella, Boyle, Barajas, Johnee Rodish, Kaitlyn Bridgeman and Madison Lesch are really superstitious.
The victory was a true team effort with all nine batters either getting a hit, scoring or driving in a run. That included two singles from Kinsella, who reached base all four times, and a pair of 3-for-4 efforts from Barajas and Boyle.
“Brenna handles her nerves very well,” Baker-Runyon said.