The Lady Indians made it a fight in the Class 3 District 7 softball championship game.
The top-seeded Sulllivan Lady Eagles (22-6) were able to turn the tide in the middle innings for a 9-4 victory Friday at St. Francis Borgia Regional, ending the season for Pacific at 17-12.
The win continues a string of 12 consecutive district championships for the Lady Eagles.
Pacific had another upset on its mind in the championship game after already knocking off second-seeded Borgia in the semifinals.
“We came and watched Pacific last night and how they put up an amazing fight against Borgia and so I knew that would continue today,” Sullivan Head Coach Ashley Crump said.
Pacific reached the district championship game with a roster laden with eight seniors.
“The pressure was on them,” Pacific Head Coach Tonya Lewis said. “It wasn’t on us and we said last night after we beat Borgia that we were going to come out today and no matter what happened we were just going to have some fun. We knew they’re tough and we wanted to play hard. We executed our game plan for the most part.”
The Lady Indians struck the first blow on a two-run Bella Walker home run in the first inning off starting pitcher Hanna Johanning. Walker made two unsuccessful attempts at a sacrifice bunt before sending the ball sailing over the center field fence.
Sullivan then quickly switched gears to its ace, Addison Purvis, who finished out the inning.
Purvis got Sullivan on the board in the home half of the first with an RBI double.
Johanning went back into the circle in the second inning, recording two outs before surrendering a double to Lilly Prichard.
With a runner in scoring position, Sullivan sent Purvis back into the circle where Walker connected for a single to right field to score Prichard and extend Pacific’s lead to 3-1.
Purvis then got the final out of the inning and remained the Lady Eagles’ pitcher for the remainder of the game.
With their ace not at 100 percent, the Lady Eagles had limited Purvis’ pitching in the final games of the regular season and in the district semifinals Thursday against Owensville. However, Pacific’s early runs forced Sullivan’s hand on the matter.
“We have that (designated player) flex rule so that DP can go in and play defense as much as she wants,” Crump said. “We knew Johanning was going to get us through some batters and it just turned out we needed to go to Addison a little bit early. ... We didn’t really have a specific plan. It was just going to be when we felt like it was right to bring her in.”
Multiple pitching switches in the first couple of innings presented challenges for the Pacific hitters attempting to get their timing down.
“We wanted to jump out and show them that we could hit any of the pitching that they gave to us,” Lewis said. “We know that (Purvis) is hurt, but I still feel like even if she hadn’t been, if she would have started the game and been out there, we just were ready for it and we would have had the hits no matter what.”
The Lady Indians’ advantage on the scoreboard lasted until the bottom of the third inning when Purvis singled home a run and then Kloey Blanton cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to give Sullivan its first lead of the game, 5-3.
After multiple close calls with the fence, Johanning finally cleared it with a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning that extended the Lady Eagles’ lead to 9-3.
“The time before, I thought hers was over and Addison had one that I thought was over and maybe Kloey Blanton with the bases loaded,” Crump said. “There were a few that I thought were going to go and then they finally got one.”
Purvis got the first two outs of the final frame in order before Prichard connected for a two-out solo home run, the only home run allowed by Purvis on the season.
“That makes it even more special,” Lewis said. “That’s really awesome.”
Prichard’s home run was a final high note for the Lady Indians with the game and the season ending on the next at-bat.
In the final box score for the game, Purvis accumulated 6.1 innings in the circle and allowed one run on two hits and three walks, striking out five.
Johanning was credited with 0.2 of an inning pitched with three earned runs on two hits and a walk.
In the circle for Pacific, Taylor Hanger kept it close for the majority of the game. She tossed six innings and allowed eight earned runs on nine hits and seven walks. Hanger recorded three strikeouts.
Prichard and Walker’s home runs were the two big hits for Pacific. Prichard’s double and Walker’s single were the only other Pacific hits.
Walker drove in three runs and Prichard one.
Prichard scored three times and Walker once.
Prichard walked twice while Maddie Greco and Rachael Ray both reached on balls once.
Walker and Annie Mueller both sacrificed.
For Sullivan, Blanton had three of the team’s nine hits. She doubled with two singles and three RBIs.
Johanning’s grand slam was her only hit of the game. She also walked once and scored twice.
Kayla Ulrich and Purvis had two hits apiece.
Purvis doubled, singled and walked twice, driving in two runs.
Ulrich doubled and singled.
Hannah Cox singled and walked twice.
Sophia Weirich and Madyson Stahl both walked once.
Stahl scored a run.
Alexis Johnson scored three times. Grace Glaser scored twice and Hannah Campbell once.
Sullivan draws the District 8 champion, Mexico (18-10) in the sectional round Wednesday. The Lady Eagles will host that game at 5 p.m.
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