GRANVILLE — The Putnam County softball team won its second consecutive Class 1A regional championship in a different way than most would expect.
Instead of power hitting and quick runners stealing bases to frustrate the opposing defense, the Lady Panthers defeated Marquette 3-0 at home Saturday with a different style of play.
“We talked about being able to play more than one way, so when we weren’t hitting the ball quite as well as we would have hoped, we played small ball a little bit, but it paid off,” said PC coach Chris Walker, whose team advances to play Princeville in a Class 1A Midland Sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
After the first inning in which both teams sent four batters to the box and stranded a runner on second, PC heated up in the second inning.
The first two Lady Panther batters grounded out and popped up, but they were followed by three singles from the bottom of the lineup in left fielder Destinee Gonzalez, third baseman Nikki Mertel and second baseman Taylor Pettit.
Pettit’s shot in the gap between second base and the centerfielder brought Gonzalez around for the first run of the game.
In the third frame, the Lady Panthers put the finishing touches on the scoring as PC sent seven hitters to the plate and had four get on base with one hit.
Shortstop Monica Monroe was walked to start the inning and went to second when right fielder Annie Miller reached on a bunt.
Monroe and Miller were both brought around by timely connections from first baseman Venessa Voss and center fielder Stephanie Wilson to grow the lead to 3-0.
“It was nice to get the first and the second one. Destinee got on with a single and then we got her home with Taylor Pettit’s single,” Walker said. “And then in the third we got a couple girls on and Stephanie (Wilson) hits a shot out to left. We scored a couple there, took the pressure off and we didn’t have to resort to some things we didn’t really want to have to do. They showed up and did enough to get the job done.”
Marquette played solid defense by committing only one error and stranding seven PC base runners, including three in scoring position.
The problem was the Lady Cru couldn’t hit PC ace Shelby Yepsen.
She struck out 10, walked one and allowed two hits in a complete game.
“You know what, Woodland beat us and then Putnam County beat us (11-1 on May 10), and we got better as the year went on,” Marquette coach Ben Oakes said. “That’s all I was looking for out of the girls. I’m happy with them. Even though we didn’t win, I’m happy with them and I’m proud of them. I really think they got better as the year went on.
“(Yepsen’s) probably the best pitcher that we’ve seen, She’s got good movement on the ball. The pitch calling was good. Their coach is a class act. They’re just a good team all around.”
Marquette starter Carly Oakes pitched three innings, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out two and walking two. Freshman Katherine Dyche entered the game in the fourth for the Lady Cru and struck out three, didn’t walked any and gave up two hits.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.