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Sweet Rebel victory over New Wash

Sweet Rebel victory over New Wash
Sweet Rebel victory over New Wash
South Central shortstop Maddie Mellick turns to face New Washington's Bailey Crace to catch the Lady Mustang runner in a pickle. The Lady Rebels went on to win their first game in the postseason since 2010. Photo by Brian Smith

South Central played it calm and cool.
A modest celebration of a few smiles and high-fives through the handshake line masked plenty of joy outside of South Central’s dugout Monday afternoon.
Scoring the softball program’s first win in postseason play since 2010, South Central upended New Washington, 5-1, in the Class A Lanesville Sectional semi-final. They earned a berth to face No. 4 Borden today (Wednesday) in the championship.
‘Winning in general,’ Katie Crecelius said of her team’s accomplishment. ‘We have definitely struggled early (in the season), but we’ve played a lot of good ballgames. I asked them to give me all they’ve got, and they’ve done that.’
South Central twirler Haley Shaffer was efficient on the rubber. Not only did she allow just four hits through seven innings, she also struck out six without walking a batter.
‘Haley is a great pitcher that gave us an A game today,’ Crecelius said. ‘Her and Olivia (Ferree), our catcher, have become a great team.’
Offensively, the Lady Rebels took advantage of a slow beginning out of New Washington pitcher Brooke Shaw.
In the bottom of the first, after Shaffer retired the side with strikeouts, Shaw walked the first two batters, Vivian Temple and Maddie Mellick. After recording an out, clean-up hitter Victoria Sallee was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.
Clutch hitting by Ferree plated two runs. Her liner to right rocketed beyond the extended glove of the Lady Mustangs right fielder.
‘The middle of our lineup has done a great job this year, Victoria, Olivia and Issabelle,’ Crecelius said. ‘If it is knocking runs in or taking walks, they get it done.’
New Washington turned around in the second inning to split the lead in half. Kaelin Williams hit a one-out single then moved into scoring position swiping second. When Williams broke for third, a misplayed throw to the bag allowed the runner to score standing up.
Base runners were plenty for the Lady Rebels throughout the game. They put at least one on in each inning but the sixth.
Ferree reached three times, off two singles and an error. Runners, however, were stranded in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings.
Knocking on the door of scoring paid off in the fifth when three runs were tacked on.
Sallee and Ferree reached on infield throwing errors and eventually came home. Issabelle Temple drew a walk, then Emily Miller plated a run when New Washington committed another miscue.
An unusual 5-1-5 fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Oakley Taylor allowed Temple to score from third to give South Central a 5-1 lead.
‘We knew this would be a tough ballgame with Brooke being a great pitcher with a lot of strikeouts,’ Crecelius said. ‘She has nice movement, but we tried to be patient and it worked out for us.’
The patience led to drawing five walks and being hit twice by pitches for free passes to first.
In all, both teams made four errors each. South Central’s were more spread out, while New Washington lumped them together in the fifth. Taylor had an outfield assist in the top of the seventh, gunning down lead-off hitter Jodi Davidson when she attempted to turn a double into a triple.
‘Our defense works really hard,’ Crecelius said. ‘We finally have a solid defense because we quit moving people after settling on a lineup we feel is our best.’
Against the Lady Mustangs, Crecelius said her team adjusted to the aggressive base running by its opponent as the game went on. Ferree threw out a runner trying to steal in the sixth, along with the outfield assist by Taylor. Shortstop Mellick also cut down a lead runner bound for third base in the third inning to reach two outs.
‘They had six stolen bases in the regular season game, so we knew they would run a lot,’ Crecelius said. ‘It’s a conference rival we’ve seen several times, so we knew what they like to do. They have a great program.’
Up next in the championship is Borden. In a tight regular season game in Elizabeth, the Lady Braves won, 2-1.
‘We played very competitively with Borden during the season,’ Crecelius said. ‘Their pitcher is pretty fantastic and can move the ball with a nice rise ball. We’re going to work hard tomorrow to be ready. The girls have come a long way from losing (in) double digits a few times early in the season to a sectional final.’
The Lady Rebels (4-16) last won a softball sectional in 1998. First pitch against Borden tonight will be at 6.

New Washington 010 000 0 ‘ 1 3 4
South Central 200 030 x ‘ 5 3 4
W ‘ Shaffer, L ‘ Shaw.
2B ‘ Davidson (NW).