New Palestine High School Softball (Varsity)

Softball blasts PH to advance to sectional final

By Andrew Smith | May 22, 2024 11:42 PM

Maddie Engle's first-inning homer set the tone, and an outstanding defensive play by Sydney Oliver did the same as the New Palestine softball team downed Pendleton Heights 9-0 in Wednesday's sectional semifinal at PH. The fourth-ranked Dragons (21-4) advance to face Greenfield-Central in Thursday's 6 p.m. sectional championship game at PH. Courtney Study pitched a four-hit shutout in the circle for the Dragons. With the help of a great defensive play by Oliver and Reese Rosenbaum, she pitched out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the first inning and controlled the Arabians from there. PH loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter to start the bottom of the first. The next batter lined a flyball to Oliver in right. She caught it, then zipped the ball home to hold a fleet runner at third. However, the Arabians' runner on second - expecting the lead runner to tag - strayed off the bag. Rosenbaum, the catcher, fired to Allie Blum at short, who chased her down to record a doubleplay. Study retired the next hitter to end the inning. But the Dragons set the tone in the top of the inning. Jersi Gross led off by lining a double to left. With one out, Paige Ernstes reached on a grounder to short when the shortstop hesitated. Oliver followed with a sharp single to center to plate the first run. After another out, Engle stepped in. She blasted a 2-1 pitch well beyond the leftfield fence for a three-run homer, putting the Dragons up 4-0. The Dragons added to their lead in the third. Ernstes reached on an infield hit with one out. Oliver then hit a deep flyball to center that was dropped, putting runners on second and third. Hirschy then laced a single to center to plate both, extending the lead to 6-0. In the fourth, the Dragons added three more runs. Gross singled to left with one out. After another out was made, Ernstes laced another single to left to put two runners on base. Oliver then drilled a pitch into the rightfield corner and scampered to third for a two-run triple. She then came home on Hirschy's single. PH had baserunners in each of the first five innings, but was unable to get a runner past first base after the opening frame. Hirschy, Engle and Oliver each drove in three runs. Hirschy and Engle were each 2-for-4. Oliver was 3-for-4 and also scored three times. Gross was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs. Ernstes was 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Allie Blum was 1-for-4 with a double. Rosenbaum was also 1-for-4. The Dragons outhit PH 13-4. Study struck out four, scattered four hits and walked three for the shutout. She is now 13-2 on the season. The Dragons will be seeking their first sectional title since 2019 - and their first-ever 4A sectional title - in Thursday's final against Greenfield-Central.