It’s not odd to see the Sullivan softball Lady Eagles raising district softball championship plaques.
The Lady Eagles (17-7) collected another Class 3 District 9 championship Friday at the Washington Knights of Columbus Field with a 14-0 win over Union (19-7) in five innings.
“I feel like things have really come together for us and it is perfect timing heading into postseason play,” said Sullivan Head Coach Ashley Crump.
“The Sullivan girls have a way of rising to the occasion and getting the job done in big games,” Union Head Coach Bill Juengel said. “You’ve got to give them credit.”
Sullivan will host Blair Oaks (22-4) Wednesday at the Campbell Chapman Complex in Sullivan. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
“We know Blair Oaks will be a tough game and at this point in the season, we don’t expect anything less,” Crump said. “If our offense can continue to strengthen, it really takes pressure off of Tessa (Johanning) and our defense knowing we will be able to put runs on the board.”
The teams have played once this season with Blair Oaks winning 17-0 in the University of Central Missouri Tournament in Warrensburg. The teams also played in the 2012 MSHSAA Class 3 state tournament with Blair Oaks winning then, 13-5.
Just as Blair Oaks has dominated Sullivan, the Lady Eagles have done the same to Union. Sullivan rallied for a 7-6 win over Union in the Four Rivers Conference game Sept. 26. This time, Union never had a chance.
Sullivan scored four times in the bottom of the first inning with the big hit being a Sarah Messex home run.
“The girls came out ready to hit,” Crump said. “I think it helped seeing Salem’s pitcher the night before due to their similarities. Sarah really set the tone of the game with the home run in the first inning. She has come up with big hits for us all year.”
Messex went 2-4 with a home run, two runs, three RBIs and a stolen base.
Aubrey Daniel, who was 2-4 with a run and three RBIs also hit a home run later in the game.
The Lady Eagles rolled to eight additional runs in the bottom of the second and sealed the victory with two more runs in the third.
Union had its best chance to score in the top of the fifth, but Sullivan pitcher Johanning was able to escape the jam to complete the shutout.
Johanning allowed no runs on five hits and three walks. She struck out five.
“Tessa Johanning was very good mixing her pitches and changing speeds,” Juengel said. “Their hitters battled at every at-bat, fouling off pitches and then eventually coming through with the hits. They did a lot of things right for the tournament scoring a lot of runs and allowing none.”
For the game, Johanning allowed five hits and three walks. She struck out five.
Juengel used two pitchers in the game. Janna Ruether started and went two innings, allowing 12 runs (eight earned) on 11 hits and two walks. She struck out one.
Sheena Carroll pitched the final two innings, allowing two unearned runs on four hits.
Union’s three errors hurt efforts to get out of innings and kept Sullivan scoring.
Sullivan’s had seven players with two hits each. Joining Messex and Daniel were Ashley Blanton, Haley Bossaller, Sierra Pryor, Johanning and McKenna McCoy.
Pryor scored three runs while Halle Coats and Michala Martin each scored twice. Blanton, Bossaller, McCoy and Emma Steinkiste each scored once.
Bossaller drove in two runs. Blanton, Martin, Johanning and McCoy each had one RBI.
Martin and Johanning drew walks. Bossaller and Coats also stole bases. Johanning and McCoy sacrificed.
Offensively, Union got two hits from Kirsten Dierberg and two from Shelby Miller. Kayla Kelly had one hit.
Jerica Reeser, Jordan Thorpe and Sam Wickes recorded walks.
“Although the game didn’t turn out as we would have liked, I still think that we had a pretty successful season going 19-7,” Juengel said. “We graduate eight seniors from the team who have played a big part in the success that our program has had the last few years and we wish them well. It might be fair to say that we have been the No. 2 team in the area the last number of years. It’s not really where you want to be but it’s still not too bad.”
Union’s eight seniors are Megan Altemueller, Carroll, Dierberg, Miller, Reeser, Thorpe, Wickes and Courtney Zweifel.