Jasper clinches share of SIAC

Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper senior Hannah Schwenk (21) hustles down the first base line in the bottom of the fourth Monday against Evansville Mater Dei. Schwenk received an RBI on this groundout for Jasper's first run of the game. Jasper rallied to score runs in the bottom of the sixth and win, 5-3. 


JASPER - Jasper honored softball coach Matt Pryor for his 150th win with the team prior to Monday's game against Evansville Mater Dei. Pryor achieved the feat on Saturday againstt Evansville Bosse, but he said win No. 151 on Monday - a 5-3 come-from-behind victory, felt better than No. 150 did.

"What grit this team had the entire time," Pryor said. "Even when we were down two, you could still tell the energy was there. So, I was excited that they just didn't roll over. They've always been adamant about playing all seven innings, all 21 outs, and they certainly showed that today."

The win of this All-Wildcats matchup gave Jasper (19-2, 8-0) at least a share of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference championship. Jasper didn't have a base knock against Mater Dei junior Sophie Kleiman until two outs in the bottom of the fifth.

Yet, junior Adrienne Simmers broke through with an infield single, and sophomore Hillary Springer doubled her over to third base in the next at-bat. Jasper couldn't pull closer in what was a 3-1 game at the time, but things would all come together in the bottom of the sixth. 

Pryor said there was a new sense of momentum after Simmers' single, but the team made some adjustments its third time in the order.

"Third time around, (we) start making some adjustments up at the plate," Pryor said. "So, they left the door open for us, and we certainly just kicked it in with that momentum, but Red (as Simmers is known) got it started with that infield hit."

Mater Dei committed six errors in this game, and Jasper capitalized off some of those errors that helped lead to four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Kaitlynn Mendel put on a suicide squeeze, and Mater Dei tried to get senior Kylie Patterson at home plate, but she scored to give Jasper a 4-3 lead. With the ball getting away, freshman courtesy runner Kaylee Stinnett had her own dash, giving Jasper an insurance run and bringing the game to its final score.

"We pretty much said as a coaching staff, 'If we don't have bunting, we're not going to very far in sectional, and since then, we've practiced it hard, and now we're having success with it," Pryor said.

He credited Stinnett for rounding the bag and taking off when she saw some room on the play, and appreciated the spark she could provide on the bases.

The job isn't done for Jasper just yet, as the team has a share of the SIAC, but there are multiple ways it can clinch the conference championship outright. Castle is 7-1 in conference play, with that one loss being against Jasper.

Jasper can clinch outright as early as Tuesday if Castle loses at Evansville Memorial, but if the Knights win, Jasper can have the SIAC all to itself if it takes care of business Thursday at home against Evansville North. A win for Castle Tuesday and a loss for Jasper on Thursday would mean the two teams share the championship, since there is no tiebreaker in this scenario.

"Now it's just getting reps on a little bit of everything," Pryor said. "We still practice our base running, we still practice our bunting, but just going through our routine stuff - going through our first and third plays. So, now you're really in a review process if there's not an area that we're lacking in.

"And now, we're starting to fire on all cylinders," he continued. "So, now it's about, 'Alright, let's just keep things sharp. Let's go over everything we got defensively and offensively on one day, and the next day, let's focus on the other thing.'"

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