When the Van-Far Lady Indians received a No. 2 seed in this past week’s Class 1, District 4 Tournament, the players knew that with one win they might get a rematch against EMO Conference rival Clopton.
Van-Far was seeking revenge after they gave up five runs in the seventh inning one week earlier to the same Lady Hawks team that rallied for an extra-inning win.
Sure enough the two teams did meet in Friday’s district finals and both teams played into extra innings. This time, the Lady Indians came out on top 2-1 to win the school’s first ever district title in the sport.
“Coach (Wes) Rowden and myself could not be more proud of the entire team on how hard they fought to get to this point and show everyone that Van-Far came to win,” said Van-Far head coach Kelly Orf. “I hope everyone will keep supporting us on our road to state.”
The Lady Indians will take on St. Elizabeth in the state sectional round at 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 14 at St. Elizabeth. The school is located about two hours south of Vandalia. St. Elizabeth, who has just an 8-14 record, advanced to sectionals after upsetting a 21-4 Crocker team in the Class 1, District 3 Tournament.
The State Quarterfinals are scheduled for noon on Saturday, October 17 with location yet to be determined.
In the district finals, the Lady Indians offense picked up several hits but were unable to score as both teams were scoreless through seven innings.
Van-Far freshman Jordan Garner helped her team finally break through in the top of the eighth inning when she hit a homerun for a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, Clopton responded by scoring one run in the bottom half of the eighth, though they could of had more as they left a runner stranded on third base.
“Garner’s homerun definitely helped keep our energy going for the extra innings,” Orf added. “At one point they had the go-ahead run on third but again our defense stayed calm and got out of the inning.”
Senior Renee Nelson came up big in the clutch as she drove in the go-ahead RBI in the top of the ninth inning.
Van-Far pitcher Jayle Jennings, who only allowed one run on two hits the entire game, shut down Clopton’s bats on the Lady Hawks’ home field in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.
Jennings also had two strikeouts in the win.
Offensively, Jennings led the team with three hits. Alexis DeTienne and Nelson each drew two walks.
“Going into Friday night’s game we knew we would have to play great defense and field the bunts and slaps well,” Orf said of her team that did make four errors in the win. “The whole game was very nerve racking but I was so proud of the girls the way they handled themselves under pressure. Jayle Jennings pitched her heart out and never showed any signs of letting up all nine innings. Her defense had her back the entire game. We had a few costly errors but we pulled together as a team and rallied back.”
In the district semifinals, the Lady Indians wasted little time attacking Silex on offense as they scored seven runs in the first inning before holding on for an 11-3 victory.
Though two of the Lady Indians’ first inning runs were unearned, their bats were on fire.
Van-Far added two more runs in both the fourth and sixth innings in the eight run victory behind 14 hits.
The girls were so fired up going into districts and it really showed both games,” Orf added. “The Silex game- gave up two unearned runs in the top of the first but our bats were on fire. After that first inning, we got all the jitters out and played solid defense the rest of the game. The major turning point in the game was when Madison Orr threw out Lipsey trying to steal third on a bunt. This really fired our girls up and there was no stopping them after that.”
Nelson and Jennings each had two RBIs. Madison Orr and Garner had three hits a piece.
Jennings earned the victory on the mound after tossing seven innings and finished with two strikeouts.