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As long as Adams Central’s Lady Jets and Bellmont’s Braves continue to win, I will continue to have something incredible to talk about in June.
I think that it’s been understated just how impressive AC has been. It started out as a first when the Jets won their first sectional ever over Bishop Luers. After the one-run victory, it seemed that they were fortunate just to be moving on.
Then they won again.
At the regional level, they had to defeat Central Noble, a team that had the advantage of hosting the game in front of a packed crowed that was about 60-40 in favor of Noble. In the pregame and in the opening inning, it did not seem as though AC expected to win. I thought to myself that the girls seemed complacent and content with winning sectionals and not too confident of moving on.
And then I watched from the third row (of three) of their extremely unaccommodating seating arrangement as AC ‘s Sydnee Peterson single-handedly brought her team from the edge of a potential disastrous inning after an error and two blooped singles loaded the bases. The senior struck out the side and that was all that was required to get the Lady Jets’ spark back.
They proceeded to get key hits from their senior core and the supporting cast would follow suit en route to a 5-0 blanking of CN with six more stellar innings from Peterson who has posted an 18-9 record on the hill this season.
With a regional title, the Lady Jets seemed humbled again by the experience, especially with a 30-1 Rochester team slated for the semi-state a week later.
“We’ll just see what happens,” coach Cary Blake stated after the regional win. “We will give it our best shot.”
After 17 years without a sectional title, a semi-state title was probably not on the brain of coach Blake in March. It may not have even have occurred to him and his crew of upstart Jets at mid-season when they were sitting on a 7-11 record after their fourth straight loss, a 12-4 decision in game two of a double-header with Jay County.
The Lady Jets would turn on the…jets (sorry, I had to) and win seven of their next eight games to end the regular season, then win four more to get to Greentown at the semi-state level.
Then the Lady Jets won again.
A huge 5-4 victory over the number three team in 2A led to the nightcap when the Jets used the momentum by topping the Carroll Flora team, 4-2.
Now you’re caught up.
Saturday, AC will face their second 30-win foe of the tournament, the 30-0 team from South Putnam who will be defending their 2011 state title after going 29-1 last season earning the crown.
Should the Jets be worried? I would have said yes before their win against Rochester. If I’m being honest with you readers at all I have to say that I did not see that coming. I knew these girls were good, but I did not know just how good.
Whatever is leading these girls to such elevated play needs to continue on Saturday for them to compete. South Putnam has been mowing down their competition this season with 14 of their 30 wins ending in six innings or less.
If I had to put a name to the “it” factor with these Jets, while keeping my column “PG” of course, I’d have to call it “brass.”
The five seniors, most definitely led by the catcher Alyssa Keller, have pushed this somewhat youthful Jets team to heights nobody expected them to reach. Alyssa will have to be “Stellar Keller” along with her fellow seniors Lindsey McDougall, Sammie Baker, Alexa Baller, and Jenae Blackburn to stand a chance against the terrific pitching and powerful lineup of the South Putnam Lady Eagles.
They’ve made it this far without many believers, why can’t they win it all?
Sydnee Peterson needs to do what she has done for most of the season and all of the playoffs: put on her senior pants and pitch one heck of a game. It is June, after all. All 2A schools but two have completed their season and juniors there are in transition to becoming seniors the moment they return their jerseys!
Collectively, the Jets also need to rely on each other with each at-bat counting whether it's a single that starts a rally, a bunt that moves the runner, or a booming homerun that makes the coach scratch his head about the bunt afterwards.
I would love to see AC take home the title on Saturday. Perhaps this could be the start of many quality seasons to come for coach Blake. With the flimsy state of other girls' sports in the area save track and volleyball at Bellmont, this team should spark interest and support from the whole county. Come watch your Jets play for the state title!