Dwight captures regional semifinal contest
A tough shutout loss in last year’s sectional final might have set the tone for this year’s Dwight softball team. The Trojans won more than 20 games in the regular season and are now looking to take make amends for that defeat against Heyworth.
The first step in their journey to the ultimate goal came Tuesday after as the Trojans defeated rival Gardner-South Wilmington 6-2 in the first semifinal of the Class 1A Dwight Regional.
There will be five steps for Dwight to take in order to get to the state finals. The first four will be at home. The first one was Tuesday and got the Trojans prepped for the journey.
“We hadn’t played a game yet, but it felt the same (as any other),” said DTHS ace hurler Abby Edwards. “Just like Coach (Kolby) Hoffman told us, it’s one game at a time, one pitch at a time. It’s just part of the big step.”
Edwards was in control but ran into one bad inning. A tight strike zone led to some near misses and created four three walks in the fourth inning. There were two base hits and the bases were loaded with one out before the Pittsburgh-bound DTHS hurler got back in her groove.
Edwards set down Kaylee Steichen and Paige Patterson on strikes to get out of the inning with the Trojans still holding a 5-2 lead.
There was a throwing error in the GSW fourth, but things worked out well when it was all said and done.
“We didn’t let any errors creep in, we had one but we didn’t let it turn into more,” DTHS head coach Chuck Trainor said in referencing a key to the game. “It was one of those games where we weren’t going to run away with it and they weren’t going to give up.”
Regardless of the Panthers’ fourth inning rally, there was no serious threat to the Trojans. Dwight grabbed the lead in the first inning and was in control from even before they batted.
Edwards struck out the side in the top of the first inning, and it was Edwards who got the Trojans on the board in the bottom of the frame.
A pop out and a fly out brought Edwards to the plate with two outs. She singled to center and, with Macey Rodosky at the plate, stole second to set up the first tally.
The 13th pitch in the Rodosky at bat was unlucky for GSW as the senior shortstop singled to left to drive in Edwards.
“I’d love a run every first inning, it kind of breaks the ice,” Trainor said. “And knowing you have Abby on the mound, it make it easier to coach. Abby is always in the zone.”
Edwards was just as happy to have the lead.
“It felt good because I knew we were up on them and I could relax and throw my game,” she said. “I’m a pitcher, so I like having control of the game. I know they’re back there, so if I make a mistake, they’ll back me up.”
Edwards didn’t make mistakes, other than the bumpy fourth innings. She retired the first six GSW batters and nine of the first 10 in getting through the third inning with a 5-0 lead.
Dwight built that advantage with a four-run second inning. Taylor Anderson led off the DTHS second with a single up the middle. She stole second and took third on Hayley Schlabowske’s single to the hole on the left side.
Kat Harms singled to right to drive in Anderson, and Kayla Kodat followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate Schlabowske and make it 3-0.
LynnDee Hale blooped a double behind first base, and Katy Edwards’ two-bagger to right-center drove in Harms and Hale for the 5-0 lead.
Something else that is important when taking those championship steps is bouncing back from adversity. Dwight did that after GSW scored twice in the fourth inning.
The Trojans got one of those markers back with a two-base hit from Abby Edwards that plated Hale, who had led off the DTHS fourth with a double.
“It felt a little bit better,” Edwards said of getting on the board after GSW scored. “You allow two runs and you come back and score one is pretty good.”
Edwards finished the game with 12 strikeouts as Dwight improved to 22-6. She allowed two earned runs, four hits, five walks and hit a batter.
Offensively, the Trojans managed 11 base hits, but Trainor felt there’s room for improvement.
“We were just out over our front foot on these pitches,” the first-year DTHS skipper said. “Gardner did a nice job keeping it in the strike zone. We were able to score when we needed to and move some girls around. I just didn’t think we looked as disciplined at the plate.”
Abby Edwards had two hits, including a double, and drove in a run. Hale had a pair of doubles and Anderson and each contributed two hits. Katy Edwards had a double and two RBIs with Harms, Rodosky and Kodat each collecting a hit and run batted in. Schlabowske also had a hit.
St. Anne and Armstrong play today with the winner meeting Dwight for the championship on Saturday.