LAGRANGE — Championship teams are the ones that limit mistakes and do the little things right.
Keystone reminded everyone Tuesday why it is a championship team.
The Wildcats scored six runs with two outs, came through with big plays on defense and their star pitcher, Sydney Campbell, struck out 15 in a 7-0 Division II district semifinal win over Holy Name at LaGrange Community Park.
Senior Shelby Fortune got Keystone (25-0) on the board in the first inning with a two-run home run to straightaway center field, scoring courtesy runner Morgan Modock.
It was Fortune’s third home run of the year and her second of the district tournament.
“I went up to bat with a different attitude today. I felt good in the box,” Fortune said. “We’ve all been hitting the ball so well, and once a person gets a good hit, I feel like it’s contagious. Now everyone is starting to hit.”
Eight batters had hits and six drove in runs as Keystone won its 59th consecutive game dating to the start of the 2018 season.
“I am really happy with how we played today,” coach Jim Piazza said. “What I’m happiest with are the two-out hits. We scored six of our seven runs with two outs, that shows great focus. Everything is coming together. Sydney is a big part of what we’re doing but you’ve gotta have the defense and you’ve gotta have the hitting. All of the pieces are coming together.”
After pitching nine perfect innings over two games, Campbell gave up her first two hits of the tournament when Anessa Whitlow and Sidney Jablonski led off the fifth with singles.
A wild pitch advanced Holy Name (16-10) runners to second and third, then third baseman Madi Herrington made the defensive play of the day. She fielded a Mary Lewis grounder and faked a throw to first before turning around to find Whitlow breaking down the line.
Whitlow was tagged out trying to hurry back to third and Campbell worked her way out of the jam, helping to secure her 16th shutout of the season.
“Day in and day out we practice those defensive situations with runners on. We know what we need to do and that’s exactly what Madi did,” Campbell said. “We’re very smart about the game of softball, we know what needs to be done. It makes my job so easy to know I can give up a couple of hits and still not allow a run. Our defense has just been amazing.”
The top-seeded Wildcats will face the winner of today’s Cloverleaf-Firelands semifinal Thursday for a district title.
You’d think a team that hasn’t lost in nearly two years would be feeling invincible. However, Piazza has managed to keep the Wildcats focused.
“Our coaches really get on us when we’re not doing well, so we’re scared to get yelled at,” Fortune said. “We know we have to come through and stay disciplined.”
Fortune, Autumn Accord and Alexis Bowen each had two hits for Keystone, which has outscored its opponents 237-11.
“When we need a big hit, somebody comes through and it’s someone different almost every time,” Piazza said.