History made: Patriots outlast Cats for first regional title

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
The Heritage Hills Patriots celebrate winning Tuesday's Class 3A softball regional championship in Lincoln City. Heritage Hills defeated Jasper 1-0 for the first regional championship title in school history. In a pitcher's duel, the Patriots rewrote the script after having their season ended by the Wildcats' in last year's regional championship. For more photos from the game, click here.


LINCOLN CITY — After falling to the Jasper Wildcats in last year’s softball regional, Heritage Hills was eager for a second chance to rewrite the script.

In last year’s battle, errors and several costly mistakes sent the Patriots’ home disappointed with their ending.

But this time around? Well, the only tears you were going to see around the Heritage Hills’ softball program were tears of joy as the Patriots defeated the Wildcats 1-0 for the first regional championship in school history.

“We wanted it so bad last year but we just didn’t have the right vibe going,” said Heritage Hills’ senior third baseman Brianna Quinn. “But this year, we had people dancing on top of trucks to the point where (Coach Joe) Asbury had to tell us to get down. Our vibe was just crazy and I think we knew from the beginning that we had this.”

Asbury added: “Last year, we threw the ball around and kicked it around a little and we felt like we let that one get away. I’m just happy for our kids and how much they bought in and buckled down defensively.”

In a battle between two of southern Indiana’s top pitchers — Jasper’s Mia Werner (11-7 record) and Heritage Hills’ Emma Eubank (12-4 record, 2.28 ERA) — it was almost safe to guess that this was going to be a low-scoring game.

As it turns out, the lone run of the game crossed home plate in the fourth inning. Senior second baseman Mariah Zoglman started the inning with a single, and the Patriots loaded the bases after a walk by sophomore center fielder Kyla Peter and a single from sophomore shortstop Mallory Garrison.

The run ended up scoring on an RBI fielder’s choice by Sydney Richards as Zoglman rushed home from third.

The Patriots (16-12-1) had a feeling this game could come down to one play.

“I knew Jasper is a really tough team with a tough pitcher and good players,” Eubank said. “We just had to make our plays.”

Quinn added: “I kind of thought it would come down to this because we’re rivals and I knew everyone was going to be here. I had so many people text me throughout this whole week that they were going to be here and I just knew it was going to be a tough game.”

While the Wildcats (16-12) only mustered two hits in the entire game, one of them came in the seventh inning as Jasper tried to spark up a late rally.

After the first two batters grounded out and flew out, freshman right fielder Kennedy Matheis reached base with a single to bring the winning run up to the plate.

The Cats wanted to try and advance the runner anyway they could so they sent her to second base. However, Heritage Hills’ senior catcher Sierra Schipp threw down to Garrison for the final out that secured Heritage Hills’ regional title.

Jasper's Mia Werner pitches during Tuesday's Class 3A softball regional championship in Lincoln City. Werner pitched yet another solid outing as she gave up just six hits but the Cats were unable to get their bats going to help back up the strong starting pitching performance. For more photos from the game, click here.

“I had it in my mind that she was going to go because they were down and needed to advance the runner,” Schipp said. “We’ve been prepared for that for years, I knew that throw had to be there and it showed up.”

“I was very proud of my catcher — the best throw of the season right there,” Eubank added with a laugh.

It was also another superb night on the mound for Eubank — she allowed just two hits, no walks , no earned runs and a total of five strikeouts.

Asbury believes the junior hurler has been one of the main reasons the Patriots’ have lasted this long in the postseason.

“It starts with Emma in the circle, she’s just our rock,” Asbury said. “For her to have a shutout in a regional game, that’s just unbelievable.”

For Jasper, the aspect that doomed them the most was the lack of base hits as they only mustered two throughout the entire contest.

While some of that was due to the tough pitching from Eubank, it was also a lack of luck as some hard-hit balls were hit right to Heritage Hills’ defenders.

“We’ve had pretty good at-bats all year long, especially this last part of the season but we just didn’t seen the ball well (tonight),” Jasper head coach Matt Pryor said. “I think sometimes you just have to have a little luck — we hit some really hard balls that just couldn’t quite get through but that’s just sometimes the way it goes. Sometimes it bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t.”

With the victory, Heritage Hills’ advances to this Saturday’s semistate round at Jasper. They’ll have a tough matchup ahead as they’ll face Danville (24-3) in the 1 p.m. game.

What’s the key to keeping this run going?

“We just have to keep our energy but stay within ourselves,” Schipp said. “It’s hasn’t been the easiest this season having a smaller team but we have to continue to trust each other and play as a unit.”

Quinn added: “We just have to keep working and make sure we always have each other’s backs — that’s all we need.”

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