Cats defeat Vincennes Lincoln, clinch SIAC titleMay 11, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
JASPER — Jasper (18-2, 8-0) junior Chris Hedinger simplified his approach as he stepped up to the plate during the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday evening’s Southern Indiana Athletic Conference contest against Vincennes Lincoln. The game was scoreless at that stage, and the Wildcats needed a jolt of momentum.
Hedinger’s deep two-run double off the left-field wall catapulted Jasper to a convincing 7-0 victory over the Alices. The blistering knock gave the Cats their first two runs of the game, and Jasper earned the SIAC regular-season championship with the win.
“Off the bat, I thought I hit it pretty solid,” Hedinger said with a chuckle. “I didn’t think it was gone, but it started our rally. The team got hyped. We all just started putting the ball in play and getting runs. We were on a roll.”
The Cats scratched across three more runs in that half inning. Jasper sprayed the ball around the diamond and forced the Alices to make plays. In turn, the Cats took advantage of a smattering of Lincoln errors and claimed a 5-0 lead.
The fifth inning came and went without a run, but the Cats added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Jasper juniors Kody Morton and Connor Foley brought home the runs with productive groundouts, and Morton finished his evening with two runs batted in.
Certainly, the win was a figurative feather in the Cats’ respective caps. Clinching the conference title was a step in the right direction.
“It’s a respected conference, and that was one of our goals,” Jasper head coach Terry Gobert said. “I’m sure that they’re happy. I don’t think it’s anything to put up on the wall or anything, but we definitely respect the conference. To win it, that’s one of the goals during the season.”
“We want to keep it going,” Hedinger added. “We want to continue to win.”
Jasper’s six hits came in timely fashion. As the Cats enter mid-May, Gobert is focused on helping the squad string together quality at-bats.
“We’re trying to get every guy, one through nine, to have an approach at the plate and carry over,” he said.
A trio of Jasper pitchers combined to strike out seven in the Cats’ two-hit shutout. Jasper junior starter Jack Ahlbrand limited the Alices to just one hit in three innings of work. Seniors Grant Stratton and Kaleb Werner shut the door, and Stratton earned the win.
Jasper is in the midst of a busy stretch, but the Cats are grateful to partake in a competitive campaign.
“It feels good coming out in front of the home crowd with your best friends,” Hedinger said. “You’re playing the game you love. We just come out here, relax and play.”
Jasper plays its final regular-season SIAC game Wednesday at Evansville North.
“It’s a good team to play,” Gobert said. “They’re going to put a lot of pressure on us if they get on the bases. They’re a good team. They’re a very good team, so they will be a good opponent for us.”
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