Delta’s softball team hoped things might be different the third time around. There was an idea, maybe, just maybe things could go differently Saturday evening in the Class 3A Hamilton Heights Sectional final after the first two losses this season by 15 combined runs.
Only that hard-to-beat-a-team-three-times-in-a-season cliché doesn’t work against Yorktown.
The Tigers are the sort of team that will, before a game is over, hammer its share of hard line drives and score some runs. They’re the type of team that keeps hitters off balance as the ironclad defense slowly chokes the life from opponents.
In short, the sort of team that wins sectional titles.
“They want to get after it,” Yorktown coach Chrissie Saunders said. “They’re very focused right now and they are executing well and wanting to keep on going.
“It’s a good feeling.”
Keeping with the theme of threes, the Class 3A No. 8 Tigers took their third sectional crown in a row by smothering the county rival Eagles 7-0. The teams had met in the regular season and county tournament, and Yorktown (26-6) completed the sweep with another win by at least seven runs.
The Tigers advanced to a regional at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Norwell (19-8), which topped Columbia City 12-0 to claim its own sectional title.
Yorktown’s reshuffled lineup got all the offense it needed in the first two innings, and had much of it by the conclusion of the fourth plate appearance of the game. Designated player Ashleigh Morrow came up with runners on second and third in the opening frame and blasted a 0-2 pitch over the fence in left center for a 3-0 lead. She admitted after she didn’t see much special in the pitch, just a see-ball, hit-ball moment.
“I think it was a high fastball,” Morrow said with a smile. “Maybe.”
Yorktown got another big hit an inning later, when No. 9 batter Lexi Lumpkin roped an RBI double and later scored on a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 5-0. Lumpkin, a sophomore, missed all of last season with a torn elbow ligament and only played in spots this spring. But the left fielder showed some pop as Yorktown’s coaches moved catcher Kendra Saunders down in the lineup and switched a few other players around.
That offense was more than enough for Lumpkin’s sister Grace, who threw a game as efficient as it was dominant. She needed only 65 pitches for the complete game and didn’t have an inning of more than nine pitches after the second.
She walked none, allowed her only hit to the second batter she faced, a double by Logan Bland. After a Katy Johnson error against the leadoff batter in the second, Lumpkin (14-5) retired the final 18 batters she faced.
“We hit the ball, we just weren’t solid hitting the ball,” said Delta coach Doug Wilder, whose team finished 12-16. “It was just one of those nights where you’re just not hitting solid, maybe a little anxious.”
And now the Tigers head off to larger things. This squad bludgeoned its way to the state title game last season, and certainly has the look of a contender to do it again.
Although the sectional is only one step on that road, Yorktown’s players and coaches are trying to keep perspective, not seeing any step as a formality, especially the one Saturday, which brought another sectional title home.
“We need to stay humble and know that it’s one pitch at a time, one game at a time, one out at a time,” Lexi Lumpkin said. “We take this one step at a time, and we’ll slowly work our way there. We have to focus on what we have here now in front of us.”