Lincoln got a lead, and the Golden Eagle defense took care of the rest.
The Golden Eagles opened Class 2A Sectional 41 with a 3-0 win over Northeastern on Union County’s softball diamond.
Lincoln advances to today’s 5 p.m. semifinal opposite Centerville.
“There were probably no doubt nerves on both parts, in both dugouts,” Lincoln coach Scott Griffin said of opening the tournament with the first of three games played on Memorial Day Monday. “We hit the ball hard. We had a few things. We made some base running errors. I think a lot of that was just nerves.”
Lincoln ace Sydney Griffin was once again dominant from the circle. The junior right-hander struck out 18 batters, allowed just two hits and limited the Knights to three base runners as the Golden Eagles improved to 22-4.
“She gets a lot of strikeouts,” coach Griffin said of one of the state leaders in K’s.
The Lincoln offense struck early.
Kristen Meal singled — the first of three base hits for the senior shortstop — and she came around to score on a first-inning RBI single by Kerrigan Neff.
Haley Hall’s sacrifice fly to left field plated Meal for another Lincoln run in the bottom of the third, and Karlee Shank’s run-scoring single brought home Alexis Cox in the fourth.
Northeastern threatened in the fourth. Madeline Adams reached on a walk and advanced to third base, but Griffin ended the inning with a strikeout.
Sierra Gilmore and Katlyn Williams had base hits for the Knights (10-12).
“We knew coming in we were going to have to hit the ball,” said Northeastern coach Geoff Williams.
“We’ve got to build off this going ahead for next year. Couldn’t be more proud of the way they gutted it through. Sierra Gilmore pitched a heck of a good game today.”
Neff had two hits, and Tayler Pennington doubled for Lincoln.
Griffin allowed Northeastern base hits in the first and seventh innings, and walked one batter — Adams to lead off the fourth. But, Griffin followed with a groundball back to the circle, then two strikeouts to end the inning and strand the Knight on third base.
Adams was the only Northeastern base runner to get past first base.
“Lincoln’s going to be a tough out,” Williams said. “Sydney Griffin — what a pitcher.”
Today’s semifinal will be the third meeting between the Golden Eagles and the Bulldogs. Lincoln stopped Centerville twice on the way to Wayne County Tournament and Tri-Eastern Conference titles.
Lincoln won 4-2 over Centerville in the county tournament final, and again 5-4 during a regular-season meeting earlier this month.
“The kids know it’s tough for anybody to beat a team three times,” coach Griffin said. “We got beat last year by Northeastern three times, and I keep reminding them of that. You can’t take anybody lightly. Centerville has good pitching and they put the ball in play. Those two things will win you a lot of games.”