Hot-hitting Milan denied the Providence softball team a regional three-peat Tuesday night.
The Indians pounded out 14 hits, and got some solid pitching from freshman Lexi Wert, on their way to a 12-5 win over the host Pioneers in a Class 2-A regional matchup.
Providence tallied 10 hits, all singles. Milan, meanwhile, had four doubles and put its hits together for three big innings.
“They made the hits and the plays to advance in the regional that we didn’t,” said Pioneers coach Sean Payne, whose team was coming off its fourth straight sectional title and had won back-to-back regional titles. “They’re really aggressive, so they did a great job in controlling the (batter’s) box. We’ve got a pretty good pitching staff and they did a really good job of keeping on making contact and making our pitchers think about them.”
With the victory the Indians (19-5) advance to play the Triton Central-Monrovia winner at 11 a.m. Saturday in the first semifinal of the Forest Park Semistate.
It was the first regional title for Milan, the school best known for winning the 1954 boys’ basketball state title on Bobby Plump’s last-second shot, which inspired the movie “Hoosiers”.
These Indians didn’t need any late-game heroics, though. They put Providence (23-9) away early, scoring a run in the first inning, four runs in the second and three each in the fourth and fifth frames before tacking on one in the seventh.
Alex Dixon, who led Milan with three hits, doubled with two outs in the top of the first before cleanup hitter Morgan Widener drove her in with an RBI-single to left field.
The Pioneers, who were No. 6 in the final Class 2-A Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association rankings of the regular season, responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Their first two hitters, Hannah Wolford and Marlee Karem, reached base on back-to-back errors before both scored on Lillian Hughes’ two-run single.
It would be Providence’s lone lead, however.
Milan quickly loaded the bases with one out against Wolford, a freshman, in the top of the second before Riley Lovan relieved her. The junior retired Milan’s next hitter, but Kami Morrissey knocked a two-out, two-RBI double to right field before Dixon followed with a two-RBI single up the middle.
The Pioneers pulled within 5-3 on Hughes’ RBI-single in the bottom of the third, but they wouldn’t get any closer.
The Indians led off the fourth with four straight hits — a double by Wert, a single by Abby Yelton, an RBI-single by Morrissey and a two-RBI double by Dixon — against Wolford, who had returned to the mound, to make it 8-3.
“We’ve really come on towards the last part of the season,” said Milan coach Yatzie Roysden, whose team has won six straight. “The last six games, we’ve just come on fire,”
That was more than enough offense for Wert, who struck out three.
“Lexi Wert, she was actually the MVP of the sectional last week, she only gave up two earned runs,” Roysden said. “She’s pitching well, as long as she keeps the ball down. She doesn’t really get intimidated as a freshman, so that’s pretty good.”
Providence, which loses three seniors (Hughes, Karly Baumann and Rebecca Hellinger), should return almost all of its roster next season and see the return of Jacquie Hornung, a junior who missed this season with a knee injury suffered during a musical chairs accident.
“There’s definitely a lot to build on here still,” Payne said. “This senior class has done so much for us, it’s going to be tough without them…but there’s a lot of good pieces here still. There’s a lot to look forward for Providence softball.”
Milan 140 330 1 – 12-14-3
Providence 201 001 1 – 5-10-3
WP – Lexi Wert (13-4). LP – Hannah Wolford (17-5). 2B – Alex Dixon (M) 2, Kami Morrissey (M), Wert (M). Records – Milan 19-5, Providence 23-9.
Floyd Central 4, Castle 2: The Highlanders (27-6-1) beat host Castle in a Class 4-A regional game.
Floyd Central rallied from a 2-1 deficit by scoring runs in the top of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Kassie King got the win for the Highlanders, striking out eight batters in a complete-game effort.
The Highlanders advanced to Saturday’s semistate at Bedford North Lawrence.
They’ll play Indianapolis Roncalli in the 1 p.m. semifinal. The winner will advance to Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship and will face the winner of the 11 a.m. semi between Center Grove and Decatur Central.
Franklin County 4, Salem 0: Salem’s season came to an end after losing to the visiting Wildcats in a Class 3-A regional contest.