BY WILL WILLEMS – SPORTS EDITOR
CRAWFORDSVILLE — The slipper still fits for the Western Boone softball team.
After two upset victories in the first two days of the Crawfordsville Sectional, head coach Mike Vanderpool said the team was on a “Cinderella run” through the sectional.
While they switched roles to become the favorites Wednesday night in the title game against Crawfordsville, the outcome was still the same. Western Boone topped Crawfordsville 10-4 to win the Sectional 25 title for the first time since 2006.
“This feels really good,” Vanderpool said following the victory. “It is unreal. I am so happy for the girls.”
Western Boone beat the Athenians handily in the regular season in both meetings.
Vanderpool said that it was important for the Stars not to overlook them after two big wins. He was happy with the response that he saw.
“It shows how much the girls wanted it,” Vanderpool said. “Playing a team like we did who we beat comfortably in the regular season and being the third game, we could of had a letdown. But the girls didn’t. It was a gutty performance from the girls.”
Things didn’t get off to a perfect start for the Stars.
A two-out error in the top of the first allowed the Athenians to take a 1-0 lead before Western Boone had a chance to bat. But the lead didn’t last long.
Taylor Vanderpool walked to lead off the bottom of the first then scored when Cassidy Shepherd followed with a double.
After a ground out, Ashley Burns (RBI), Camryn Savage and Briley Burns (RBI), hit three-straight singles that made the score 3-1.
“That was big for us to take control back,” Vanderpool said. “We didn’t want to stay behind. We were a little tired with three games in a row and tonight maybe wasn’t our prettiest game but we did enough to win.”
The Stars made it 6-1 in the bottom of the second when Vanderpool scored on a wild pitch and Briley Burns hit a 2-run, 2-out single.
But the Athenians wouldn’t go quietly, scoring single runs in the third and fourth innings to make it 6-3.
Western Boone put the game away though in the bottom of the fourth.
With a runner on second and two outs, Julia Hole reached on an error that scored sister Olivia to make it 7-3.
Alayna Raby followed a laid down a bunt and reached on an error that allowed Julia Hole to score. Vanderpool then came up with an RBI-triple to make it 9-3. The Stars added a run on a wild pitch in the fifth.
“It started with a bunt from Alayna Raby,” Vanderpool said. “That really sparked us. She hustled down the line and reached on an error then Taylor had the big triple. Executing the bunt perfectly really sparked things.”
From there it was up to the Western Boone defense.
Outside of the one error in the first inning, they played flawless softball behind pitchers Paige Poole and Olivia Hole.
On a day that the Stars’ pitchers didn’t have their best stuff, the defense limited Crawfordsville opportunities throughout the game.
“I think our defense is playing really well right now,” Vanderpool said. “Our outfield is making plays that they weren’t earlier in the season. Defensively we are playing great. Our pitching was a little tired tonight being the third game in three days, but the defense picked them up. It was a hard road, three games in a row, and I am just so proud of the girls.”
The Stars, 16-12, will travel to Bishop Chatard on Tuesday night for the regional.
Vanderpool said the approach will be the same that they took through the sectional.
“We took it one game at a time and won a sectional,” Vanderpool said. “Now we want to win the regional. We are going back to work tomorrow and will work on the things we need to work on. We are going to give the girls some rest, and get ready for Tuesday.”
First pitch at the regional is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m.
WESTERN BOONE SENIORS Paige Poole (left), Cassidy Shepherd and Ashley Burns lift the sectional championship trophy on Wednesday night.
Photos by Will Willems | The Lebanon Reporter
WESTERN BOONE’S TAYLOR VANDERPOOL throws to first early in Wednesday’s sectional title game.