Cats drop hard-fought sectional championship

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Jasper junior Kennedy Matheis (6) runs toward home plate after hitting a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning of Saturday evening's Sectional 16 championship game against Gibson Southern at Evansville North. The Wildcats lost, 5-2. 

By JIMMY LAFAKIS
jlafakis@dcherald.com

EVANSVILLE — Although Sectional 16 offered plenty of unique twists and turns, one notion was for certain. Jasper (24-3) and Gibson Southern were set to dazzle softball fans across Southwest Indiana in Saturday evening’s spectacle at Evansville North. 

The teams met those high expectations and combined for a whopping five home runs in the championship game. After the Wildcats battled in their 5-2 loss, Jasper head coach Matt Pryor lauded the Titans’ prolific offense. 

“Year after year, they’re competitors,” Pryor said. “They’ve got a good thing going there — congrats to them. I enjoyed the atmosphere. It stinks that we’re on the other side of it, but I’m proud of our girls for the season we had and the run we had in sectionals.” 

The Cats got on the board quickly. Senior Hannah Schwenk ripped an RBI single to right field in the bottom of the first inning. After Jasper allowed a run in the top of the fourth, Cats junior Kennedy Matheis erased the 1-1 tie with a deep solo shot over the left-field fence in the bottom of the inning. Matheis could not remove her ear-to-ear grin as she rounded third base and celebrated with her teammates at home plate. 

“I’m just proud of what she’s done and how she’s turned around,” Pryor said. “That’s what hard work does.” 

Four Gibson Southern runs crossed home plate in the top of the fifth inning, and those runs proved to be the difference in the game. The Cats tallied six total hits and did not commit an error in the contest. Jasper senior pitcher Mia Werner struck out seven batters and issued four walks in her complete game. Gibson Southern senior hurler Olivia Stunkel went the distance and struck out 10 batters. 

Resolve was the name of the game for Jasper this year. Several sophomores and juniors answered the bell when called upon, and Pryor admired the team’s persistence in the face of adversity. 

“There’s been countless games this year where a team got up on us or scored on us and we responded in that half inning,” he said. “It was the grit that they showed.” 

The Cats leaned on an intriguing motto throughout the campaign. “Control-Alt-Delete” provided strength and guidance for the entire group. 

“Control what you can control, alter your behavior or attitude if it needs to be done and have a short memory,” Pryor said. “Delete the bad stuff really fast. I loved their motto this year.” 

Jasper bids farewell to four seniors — Kendyl Ruhe, Kylie Patterson, Schwenk and Werner. Pryor said that the seniors serve on Jasper’s leadership team alongside the coaches. The holistic approach to leadership is designed to benefit the student-athletes’ futures beyond softball. 

“We try to groom them to be leaders,” Pryor said. “Not just on the softball field, but out in the community and as they get into college. When they raise their families, we want them to be leaders.” 




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