JASPER – Thursday's Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 3A Sectional 31 softball championship between Jasper and Heritage Hills had its fair share of back-and-forth drama.
After 29 combined runs, 24 total hits and nine errors between the two programs, the Wildcats outlasted the No. 13 Patriots 15-14 to advance to Tuesday's regional title game against Gibson Southern.
“We've had the mindset of playing 21 outs, no matter what,” Wildcats coach Matt Pryor said. “We believe in our bats, we know that's our strong point.
“They just fight, there is no quit in this team right now and I love it.”
Through two innings, things looked bleak for Jasper with Heritage Hills scoring six runs in the first before adding three more in the second to take a 9-1 advantage into the third.
Senior Hillary Springer and sophomore Carlee Rogers led off with back-to-back singles and both scored, Springer on a passed ball and Rogers on an RBI ground out off the bat of junior Elise Lampert.
In the fourth, freshman Brooke Kleiser started the frame with a single and she scored on sophomore Olivia Young's RBI single, making it a 9-4 score. Lampert's two-out single later in the inning scored two more runs, pulling the Wildcats within three.
Heritage Hills answered in the bottom half and seemed to retake control after scoring four times to push the margin back to seven.
Sophomore Miriam Gordon hit a three-run homer to make it 12-6 and an error at second base allowed junior Rylie Schipp to score after she reached on a walk.
Errors and walks proved to be Heritage Hills' undoing in Jasper's eight-run fifth. The Patriots committed three errors, which led to two runs, and issued two walks—both with the bases loaded.
“They hit the ball, but they weren't hitting the ball in the gaps,” Patriots coach Joe Asbury said. “We needed to make plays and we didn't make plays. You have to play better defense than that, we really didn't play good defense against Pike Central either.
“In terms of the sectional overall, defense wasn't good enough.”
Giesler gave the Wildcats a 14-13 advantage on a three-run RBI double.
“She came up big time and time again,” Pryor said. “That really stands out to me.”
Freshman Haley Fischer tied it 14-14 in the sixth on a base hit but Lampert's double in the seventh for Jasper brought the go-ahead run home when Springer scored on the throw.
“We're probably not the favorite,” Pryor said. “We definitely weren't the favorite this (game) but I strongly felt we were dangerous and they proved it tonight that they are.”
Jasper improved to 15-11 on the season and the Wildcats have won three-consecutive games. The Wildcats won their ninth sectional title in program history and first since 2019.
Lampert earned the victory in the circle for the Wildcats after she allowed eight runs—seven earned—on nine hits and seven walks. She struck out one batter.
She pitched in relief of sophomore Romey Werner, who got an out but surrendered six earned runs on three hits and two walks.
For Heritage Hills, Gordon took the loss after pitching 1.2 innings and giving up 11 runs—one earned—on five hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts. Sophomore Mia Kiegel pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs—three earned—on seven hits and five walks. Kiegel struck out six batters.
At the plate, Gordon was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and five RBIs and Fisher finished 2-for-5 with a run and three RBIs.
Giesler was 2-for-4 with a run and three RBIs for Jasper in the victory and Springer finished 2-for-4 with four runs scored.
Jasper is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday to host Gibson Southern at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The Titans improved to 26-4 with their 12-0 win over Evansville Memorial.
Jasper 15, Heritage Hills 14, Sectional 31 Championship
Jasper | 1-0-2 | 3-8-0 | 1-15-12-4
Heritage Hills | 6-3-0 | 4-0-1 | 0-14-12-5
LP: Gordon, Heritage Hills.