Peebles outlasts Notre Dame 8-5 to advance
By Mark Carpenter
The success of the regular season rolled over to the postseason on Thursday, May 12 for Coach Doug McFarland and his Peebles Lady Indians as they captured a Division IV sectional championship with an 8-5 win over Portsmouth Notre Dame in a game played on the Indians’ home field.
After winning the big school division title in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference regular season, the talented Lady Indians used a combination of clutch hitting and clutch pitching to nab the sectional crown.
“A big key for us today was being to able to get runners across the plate with two outs,” said Coach McFarland after the win. “They have a nice pitcher and I told our girls to just be aggressive and not to get behind where she could use her change-up. We were able to put the ball in play and force them to make plays and early on they didn’t do that.”
“We got some timely hits when we needed them and hit the ball hard. We try to take advantage of our speed and we were able to do that today.”
Coach McFarland send hit workhorse pitcher, freshman Madison Pierce to the mound for the sectional final, and the youngster did her job early, blanking the Lady Titans for the first three innings, giving her high-powered offense an opportunity to forge an early advantage.
The Lady Indians have a lineup that from one to nine can hurt an opponent and they got off to a good start on Thursday. picking up a pair of runs in their first at-bat. Pierce led off the frame by drawing a walk and Aubrey McFarland reached on an error. Three hole hitter McKenzie Swango delivered both runners home with a base hit to right center and the Lady Indians had a lead they never relinquished.
In the bottom of the second, the home team added another run when Jessica Sowards singled and later came across on a base hit by Pierce that made it 3-0. The Lady Indians didn’t let up in their third at-bat, scoring two more times and again taking advantage of a Notre Dame mistake. Swango led off the inning by reaching on an error and after a ground out moved her up, she scored on a base hit to right by Kaitlin Toller. Toller came home when her sister, second baseman Jerilin, banged a double to left and Peebles sported a 5-0 lead.
The Lady Titans finally broke through against Pierce in the top of the fourth, plating three runs with the big hit being a two-bagger by Makayla Hadsell. With their lead sliced to just two runs, the Lady Indians got those runs back in their half of the fourth. Kylie Sims singled and McFarland drew a walk, then both runners raced home when Swango reached safely on yet another Notre Dame miscue in the field, giving Peebles a 7-3 lead after four.
Notre Dame scored one in the top of the fifth, but the Lady Indians answered in the bottom of the inning as Matti Nichols singled and came home when Sims reached on the fourth Lady Titan error of the game. The visitors got one back in the top of the sixth and the game eventually reached what turned out to be a nail-biting seventh inning for the Lady Indians and their assembled faithful.
Trailing 8-5, the Lady Titans loaded the bases with two out, bringing the tying run to the plate in left fielder Cameron Noel. With the count at 0-2, Pierce fired a high fastball that Noel swung and missed at and the Lady Indians could take a deep breath and celebrate a sectional championship.
“We’ve been working with Madison all season and we told her that it was her job to get us to the district and hopefully even further,” said Coach McFarland. “Her biggest thing is that she stays in a zone and doesn’t walk many hitters. She battles and doesn’t give up. It’s nice to have a kid like that to put out there and have confidence in her throwing strikes. As a freshman, she rarely gets rattled.”
“I knew that our girls could handle it because I have a good team behind me,” said Pierce after the game. “I was just hoping that the last pitch would be a strike. I’m excited about going to districts and hopefully we can win there too.”
The freshman hurler went all the way for the win for Peebles, giving up 10 hits, walking two, and striking out nine. Notre Dame’s Maggie Whitman took the hard-luck loss, allowing nine hits and eight runs, though her defense didn’t do her any favors.
With the win, the Lady Indians move on to the Division IV district semi-final, where they will face number one seed Symmes Valley on Thursday, May 19 at 4:30 p.m. at Minford High School. before that contest, however, the Peebles girls have one SHAC game left to makeup and they were scheduled to face the West Union Lady Dragons on Monday, May 16.
“We have a week off now with the makeup game,” said Coach McFarland. “We need to spend some time working on shoring up our defense and just making all the little plays. We’ve got a good, hard week of work ahead of us.”
NDHS 000 311 0 —5
PHS 212 210 x —8
PHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Pierce 3-1-1-1, McFarland 3-2-0-0, Swango 4-1-1-2. Stone 4-0-0-0, K. Toller 3-1-1-1, J. Toller 3-0-1-1, Sowards 3-1-2-0, Nichols 2-1-1-0, Sims 3-1-1-0, Team 28-8-9-5.
PHS Pitching: Pierce (W) 7 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 2 BB, 9 K