By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
ELNORA — Tuesday evening’s Class A Sectional 63 championship was supposed to be a battle between two bitter rivals, but it turned out to be a Viking coronation.
Barr-Reeve (13-11) defeated Loogootee (9-14),11-0, to capture its first softball sectional championship since 2004 behind eight RBIs from sophomore Skylar Chestnut and a dominant pitching performance from junior Elaina Kavanaugh.
With the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, and the Vikings already leading 7-0, Chesnut stepped to the plate. The sophomore thirdbaseman tattooed a Chassidy Bridges pitch, which bounced off the top of the wall and over the right field fence to put the Vikings up 11-0, and give Chestnut eight RBIs for the game.
“At first, I thought it wasn’t over the fence, but just hit the fence, but then I saw the outfielder stop ¬- I was fist pumping the whole way,” Chestnut said. “It was crazy.”
The Viking offense started quickly by getting a run in the first inning on a Henley Dant RBI single in the first and then a Chestnut sacrifice fly in the second to take an early 2-0 lead. In the fourth inning, Chestnut drove in Briona Miller on an infield single off the leg of Bridges.
Staked to an early lead, Kavanaugh was nearly unhittable for seven innings. The junior starting pitcher didn’t allow a hit until Gabrielle Ritchey’s bloop single to lead off the fourth, and the Lions managed only three hits for the entire game.
“The big thing for us that we talked about before the game was keeping Gabrielle (Ritchey) off the bases, because once she gets on base you might as well put her at third,” said Barr-Reeve coach Darren Kenney. “To hold this team down the way Elaina (Kavanaugh) pitched and to hit her spots was all we asked her to do.”
Through five innings, the Vikings held a 3-0 lead, but the offense hadn’t completely clicked, but that was about to change. Barr-Reeve scored four runs on three hits and two Loogootee errors.
Chestnut extended the lead to 5-0 with a two-run double in the left center field gap, and she came around to score on a dropped flyball by Lions’ secondbasemen Emma Graber. Jenna Knepp added an RBI single to push the lead to 7-0.
“We didn’t have it today,” said Loogootee coach Greg Clark. “Hitting, pitching, fielding, we just didn’t have it tonight. Not sure why it should be an easy game to get up for.”
In the top of the seventh, Barr-Reeve loaded the bases with two singles and the third Loogootee error of the game to set the stage for Chestnut. She was mobbed at the plate by her older sister ¬ senior Alexis Chestnut and the rest of her teammates when the reality set in that the Vikings had accomplished its goal of a sectional championship.
“This means so much, we haven’t won it since 2004,” Chestnut said. “Winning it for these seniors is just awesome, because they have done so much, and my sister is one of the seniors, so it feels so good to win it for her.”
Barr-Reeve will play at the winner of the Sectional 64 championship, which will be either Tecumseh or Northeast Dubois Tuesday evening.
“Whoever we face, whether it’s Tecumseh or Dubois - if we come out and play like we did tonight, we have a real good chance.”
Barr-Reeve 110 104 4 - 11 13 0
Loogootee 000 000 0 ¬ 0 3 3
Kavanaugh and Dant; Bridges and Bowling. W-Kavanaugh L-Bridges HR: (B-R) Chestnut.