CARMI — Makynna Shaffer was the No. 5 hitter in Carmi-White County's lineup during an IHSA Class 2A Softball Regional Tournament semifinal game against Mount Carmel on Wednesday.
But Shaffer really cleaned up by clubbing a pair of two-run homers as the No. 4-seeded Lady Bulldogs eliminated the No. 5-seeded Lady Aces (14-9) from the postseason with a 6-4 decision at Archie Brown Memorial Field.
Shaffer's two-run blast to center field in the third handed Carmi-White County a 4-1 lead and, after Mount Carmel trimmed its deficit to one run (4-3) in the fifth, she struck again with another two-run shot to center field.
Despite the loss, MCHS head coach Kyle Buss said his team was successful and a very close family.
“There isn't one regret that we have because we won a ton of games this season. I can't remember the last time a Mount Carmel softball team won 14 games,” Buss said. “I told them (in the postgame huddle) that I appreciated all of the hard work that they put in. It's very hard to find a group of seniors who care for each other as much as our seniors do, work as hard as they did and support their teammates.”
The Lady Aces grabbed a 1-0 lead with two outs in the first inning. After Ella Banks grounded into a double play that sent Carmen Deisher to third base, Kylie Terrel went to first on a walk. Deisher swiped home as Terrel broke away from first, getting into a rundown before being tagged out.
The Lady Bulldogs took a 2-1 advantage with two outs in the second inning, when Maddi Wenzel's pop fly to left field was mishandled for an error. Courtesy runner Mariah VanMatre and Mayci Edwards scored on the play.
Carmi-White County's Kayley Oliver pitched a 1-2-3 third before Shaffer's first home run — coming against MCHS hurler Kasey Pearson with one out in the bottom half — made it 4-1 Lady Bulldogs.
The game stayed a three-run margin until the fifth.
Mount Carmel began its rally as Allyson Armstrong (infield grounder) and Addison Drone (bunt) led off and reached on consecutive throwing errors. After Lexi Ballard pinch-ran for Armstrong, Drone dropped down a picture-perfect bunt, but was injured at first, when she tripped over the leg of Edwards, the Carmi-White County first baseman standing on the bag, and fell face-first. Libby Schneider pinch-ran for Drone.
Deisher drew a walk to load the bases before Eryn Gould, the Lady Aces' single-season leader in home runs, received a base on balls and RBI, making it 4-2 Lady Bulldogs. It stayed a two-run game as Banks hit a grounder back to Oliver, who threw home for a force out. Terrel drove in Deisher with the Lady Aces' third run by grounding into a fielder's choice at third base, where Morgan Combs gloved the ball and held the bag while laying on the ground.
With Carmi-White County ahead 4-3, a baserunner at first and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Shaffer's line drive jumped over the fence in center field, allowing the Lady Bulldogs to regain their three-run lead. The two home runs gave Shaffer seven in 2017.
Oliver worked a 1-2-3 sixth before Pearson avoided damage in the bottom half, pitching around a single and a fielder's choice that didn't register an out.
Gould launched her 13th home run of 2017 to center field in her last at-bat for Mount Carmel, completing a prep career that netted her an opportunity to attend the University of Evansville this fall.
“It feels pretty good to hit all of those home runs this year, but I could not have done it without all of the struggles I had during my first three seasons,” Gould said. “It definitely wasn't easy.”
Oliver recorded a win after pitching seven innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts.
Pearson registered the loss, yielding six runs (four earned) on seven hits with three walks and one strikeout in six innings.
In addition to Gould, seniors Deisher, Pearson, Terrel, Kara Price and McKinnon Anderson participated in their final game for MCHS.
“I know that they are sad that their high school softball days are done, but, hopefully, they will have four more years to play softball at the college level,” Buss said.
Carmi-White County (16-10) is scheduled to play No. 1-seeded Waltonville/Sesser-Valier (28-3) in the IHSA Class 2A Softball Regional Tournament championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday in Carmi.