New Palestine High School
Softball falls in sectional final
By Andrew Smith | May 25, 2023 10:10 PM
The New Palestine softball team built two early leads, but a three-run homer by Pendleton Heights in the fifth was the difference as the Dragons dropped a 5-3 decision in Thursday's sectional title game.
The Dragons finish the season with a 23-5 record.
The Dragons threatened in virtually every inning, putting the leadoff runner on base five times and delivering 11 hits, but left seven on base.
They built an early lead on singles by Aglaia Rudd, Paige Ernstes and an RBI hit by Sydney Oliver in the first to plate a run.
In the second, pitcher Courtney Study pitched out of a bases-loaded jam after two walks and an error, inducing a lineout that was snared by Alyssa Mumaw with a lunging catch to end the frame.
PH tied the game on a solo homer in the bottom of the third, but the Dragons re-took the lead in the top of the fifth. Jersi Gross and Kayla Bain led off with singles. Rudd fouled out behind first base, but Gross' speed induced a throw home. It sailed over the catcher's head, allowing Gross to come home and put the Dragons up 2-1. With a runner on second, PH was able to induce the next two outs to limit the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, PH hit a leadoff single. With two outs, Study jammed a hitter, but the ball landed in a perfect spot to allow a short infield single. The next batter hit a line-drive three-run homer to left, giving the Arabians a 4-2 lead.
The Dragons threatened in their next two at-bats. Ernstes led off the sixth with a double and moved to third on Oliver's single. Maddie Engle's groundout brought home a run and moved Oliver into scoring position. But back-to-back outs ended the threat and preserved PH's slim 4-3 lead.
The Arabians scored on two doubles in the bottom of the sixth to extend their lead to 5-3.
Again, the Dragons tried to mount a rally in the seventh. With one out, Rudd and Allie Blum had back-to-back singles. However, two flyouts to center with the potential tying run on base allowed the Arabians to escape with the victory.
The Dragons outhit PH 11-6 in the contest. Rudd was 3-for-3 with an RBI. Oliver was also 3-for-3 with an RBI. Ernstes was 2-for-4 with a double and a run. Blum was 1-for-4. Gross was 1-for-2 with a run. Bain was 1-for-2.
It was the final contest for Dragons seniors Bain, Rudd, Alyssa Mumaw and Sydney Hughbanks. All four will play collegiately. Together, they led the Dragons to a Hoosier Heritage Conference championship and the program's 20th consecutive 20-win season this year.