Keller walk-off sends Lady Jets back to semi-state
MONROE—Adams Central freshman Kara Keller wasn't quite sure what she had done when she hit the ball hard in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday night in the class 2A IHSAA girls softball regional 18 tournament at Adams Central against Bremen.
"Then I saw the runners in front of me start to slow down and suddenly I realized the ball had cleared the center field fence," she said.
Cleared the fence indeed as the Jets roared back from a 2-1 deficit going into the bottom of the seventh to win 5-2 over Bremen. The AC nine had tied the game on a bloop single to short center field by Liz Luginbill after Bremen committed its only two errors of the game and then Keller unloaded a cannon shot to dead center field.
Lion center fielder Brooke Baker went back but soon came to the fence and watched helplessly as the "Keller Krunch" sailed well over the barrier.
Keller related the ball "felt good off the bat but I didn't think initially it was out (her second home run of the season). Coach (Cary Blake) initially was going to have me bunt on the play but the infielders were in real close so he decided to let me hit away."
Chalk up a good coaching decision for the veteran AC mentor who lavished praise on his never-say-die team.
"They've always been this way, a no quit team. I've been around these kids a long time and know they're not going to go down without a fight. Give them a little leeway (errors by the Bremen infield on the first two AC batters of the seventh--Sydnee Peterson and Whitney Baller) and they won't hesitate to go for it," he analyzed.
The 20-6 Jets will next play the winner of the Eastern-Wapahni game (played Tuesday at Wapahani) at the Laville High School semi-state this Saturday.
Adams Central had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth as they manufactured a run without the benefit of a hit.
Olivia Macklin worked Bremen freshman hurler Chelsea Huppert for a leadoff walk and Peterson tried to bunt but the pitch was wild and Macklin dashed to second. On the next pitch, Peterson did get a sacrifice bunt down putting Macklin on third and Baller delivered a fly ball to center field with only one out and Macklin easily scored on the sacrifice.
Peterson had been cruising through the early innings but that came to an abrupt stop in the fifth.
After striking one of her 12 victims of the game, Peterson was touched for a double to right by Taylor Lash-brook. Breann Wilson came in to pinch run and Mikayla Gardner bunted with the bunt going over Peterson's head and in front of the other infielders for an infield single.
With runners on first and third and one out, the Jets opted to try and throw out Gardner on a steal try at second but Jayla Byer's throw went into center scoring Wilson and putting Gardner at third. Peterson reached back for another strikeout but Shelby Zellman then doubled to right center in front of a diving center fielder Bess Fiechter and suddenly the Lions led 2-1.