West 0531

North Vermillion third baseman Casey West makes a diving attempt for a foul ball during Saturday’s sectional championship game against Riverton Parke.

One of the hardest things for an athlete to do is to try to execute something counter to what he or she has trained to do. Quarterbacks throwing the ball away, basketball players intentionally missing free throws and pitchers trying to miss the plate all fall in that category.

It was the latter of those that decided the outcome of the championship game of the Riverton Parke girls’ softball sectional between the host Panthers and the visiting North Vermillion Falcons.

With the game tied at one in the bottom of the seventh, Katelynn Rewers of the Panthers doubled to left field. A pop-up failed to advance her, but a ground ball that went for an out, moved her to third.

That brought up pitcher Haley Chambers who had hit the ball hard on every at-bat on the night.

With first base open, North Vermillion coach Mike Davis did what everyone at the ballpark expected — he decided to walk Chambers intentionally to get to a batter who had struggled all game.

That is where North Vermillion pitcher Bethany Chew got in trouble. Instead of trying to pitch over the plate, she was trying to do just the opposite — to pitch outside. Her first effort was caught for ball one, but her second pitch was further down and out and got past catcher Derryn Axtell.

Rewers raced in and slide across the plate before Axtell could retrieve the ball and get it to Chew who was covering home, giving the Panthers a 2-1 win and the championship.

Both Davis and Riverton Parke manager Joe Cox said that it was a shame that the game ended in that fashion — especially after both Chew and Chambers had spent much of the night in a tight pitching duel.

Chambers recently struck out 29 batters in a 14-inning game, and on Friday, she whiffed 20 of the 21 batters she faced.

Chew also had been pitching extremely well according to Davis, so he said it came as no surprise to him that the two pitchers would dominate the game.

North Vermillion scored their run in the first when Chew singled to center, moved to second on an Axtell bunt, advance to third on a ground ball by Hannah Chew and scored when Casey West got an infield single.

The Falcons would get only one more hit and would strike out 13 times.

Riverton Parke tied the game in the bottom of the third when Chambers singled then stole second and third. Mikayla Grindle singled her home to make it 1-1.

Chew allowed only one more hit until the seventh when she gave up the double that led to eventual winning run.

“Beth pitched maybe her best game of the season tonight,” said Davis. “She hit all her spots and never really gave them anything to look at.”

Davis kept trying to second-guess himself about the seventh inning walk attempt, but always came back to “it’s the only thing I could do.”

He also noted that in a tie game there are many difficult decisions to make because one-run could be the difference.

“You don’t want to be too aggressive and ruin a chance, but you also don’t want to be too conservative and miss out on something. In a game like this one, you face a lot of those and any one of them could be the difference, but I can’t think of any I would do differently.”

He concluded by saying that his team played with the championship as a goal – getting better all season – and that his team played well enough to win.

“Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. Unfortunately, tonight it was us that lost.”

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