Softball: Andrean uses long ball again to advance into state finals
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or email@example.com June 2, 2012 11:46PM
Savannah Kinsella celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the third inning in Saturday’s semifinals against Yorktown at Twin Lakes High School. | phot by Barbara Allison~for the post-tribune
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:12AM
MONTICELLO — Coming into Saturday’s Class 3A Twin Lakes Semistate, Woodlan pitcher Hannah Robbins had given up only 11 runs on the season.
That number rose to 15 after Woodlan’s afternoon semifinal win over South Bend St. Joseph’s, but she was still considered a pretty dominant pitcher.
And speaking of that semifinal win, the Warriors showed its offense is also tough with 14 hits on the way to those 11 runs.
So Andrean had reason to worry heading into the championship, right?
Junior catcher Morghyn Neal said she was only slightly worried because of who was throwing to her from the circle — Nikki Steinbach. Neal also helped her pitcher’s cause with a monstrous two-run home run in the top of the first inning for all the runs the 59ers needed in a 7-1 victory over Woodlan.
“It’s about time,” Neal said when asked about her fifth homer of the season, but first in a while. “I’ve been struggling a little bit, but I figured it’s the (semistate) championship, so I might as well break out now.”
It was contagious. For a team that had more than 20 home runs coming into the semistate, and got all of its runs in the semifinal victory on a three-run homer from Savvy Kinsella, the bats kept rolling in the final.
In addition to Neal’s blast, Kaitlin Barajas had a two-run homer of her own in the sixth inning to go with a single, double and three RBI. It was Barajas’ eighth home run of the season and the 3-for-4 effort just added to an astounding 1.200 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) heading into Saturday.
As for Steinbach, she was efficient again, striking out nine and scattering four hits. In fact, she might have a new nickname thanks to her catcher.
“Look at you — you’re a gas tank,” Neal said, pointing toward Steinbach. “No one can hit you.”
For the newly-nicknamed “gas tank” and fellow seniors Kaitlin Barajas and Johnee Rodish, it’s the third trip to the state championship game since they began their freshmen year. This time the 59ers (27-4) will face Edgewood, which defeated Lebanon 5-4 in the south semistate.
It’s the fourth trip to the state championship game in six years for the 59ers (they won the title in 2007) and sixth overall, which is now second in IHSAA softball tournament history behind Center Grove.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” Steinbach said. “The way the cards played, it came out in our favor.”
It’s also the fourth state final appearance for Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon. She made it there three times as a player for Lake Central, winning in 2002. Now she’s there as a first-year head coach.
“This feels like more of an accomplishment as a coach,” she said. “I’m happy and excited for the girls. Everything we’ve been talking about as coaches all season, it all came together (on Saturday). They’ve started to grasp it at the right time.”