Cats race past CentralMay 29, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
EVANSVILLE — Resilience was key for Jasper (24-2) during its 10-0 run-rule over Evansville Central on Saturday afternoon. In order to obtain the victory, the Wildcats needed to refocus after Thursday evening’s portion of the Sectional 16 semifinal was suspended due to inclement weather.
Flexibility was critical in the interim, as Jasper held graduation on Friday evening. The Cats understood Saturday’s assignment and captured the six-inning win.
“We showed up ready to play, especially after graduation and open houses last night,” Jasper head coach Matt Pryor said. “We stressed on them that there are a lot of sacrifices that all of them have to make and families had to make for the way sectionals fell on graduation for us this year.”
The game resumed where the teams left off on Thursday — a 0-0 tie with Jasper coming to bat in the bottom of the first inning. Jasper jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in that frame.
The Cats added an additional run in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the game’s biggest moment did not materialize until the fifth. Jasper junior Megan Matheis ripped an opposite-field laser for a three-run homer. Her second big fly of the tournament broke the game open, but she initially thought she bounced the ball off the top of the fence.
“I didn’t know for sure until I looked up and saw the umpire saying, ‘Go around,’” Matheis said. “That was one of the greatest feelings, especially having other people on base.”
Matheis knocked in five runs and finished with a perfect 4-for-4 performance. She also recorded a team-high eight total bases in the contest.
“She is a huge weapon for us,” Pryor said about Matheis. “I’m super-confident in her ability to get runs in and at least have quality at-bats. She’s always having really good at-bats. Hopefully, that momentum with her plate appearances will continue.”
Matheis had a matinee to remember, but she also enjoyed plenty of help from her fellow Cats. Jasper scored four insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth and tallied 14 hits in the game. Cats sophomore Hillary Springer added three of those hits from the leadoff spot.
The runs provided ample run support for Cats senior Mia Werner, who struck out 13 batters and allowed just three hits in her complete game. Werner praised her teammates for their defensive efforts.
“They really have my back,” she said. “They say it almost every time we come together. They say, ‘We’ve got your back.’ It’s very helpful and reassuring to know that.”
Werner continued her stellar work from Thursday. She struck out three Central hitters in the top of the first inning before Thursday’s weather delay halted the action.
“Softball is kind of a lifestyle for her,” Pryor said. “She’s going to put this team and softball first. She was ready to go. She was ready to go the other night when she came out and struck out the first three. She’s a pretty good ballplayer who is always ready to play.”
Jasper returns to play Gibson Southern in tonight’s 7 p.m. championship. The Cats dropped a 1-0 decision to the Titans on May 10.
“We’re excited that we got here,” Pryor said. “We knew that every step getting to that championship game was a huge step. It wasn’t a little one — it was a big step. We’ve solved three steps to get what we want. We didn’t look ahead. We just knew that we had to get through three to get there. For this next step, we can hopefully bring home a championship tonight.”
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