Despite piecing together one of its finest performances on the diamond this season, Seymour’s softball team couldn’t get the edge.
In a defensive battle that came down to the final at-bats, Floyd Central defeated the Owls 1-0 in the Class 4A Sectional 15 championship Friday evening.
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Floyd Central out-hit the Owls 5-3, scoring a lone earned run in the fourth inning.
Both teams managed a hit in the opening inning, but strong defenses kept runners out of scoring position as the game remained scoreless.
A pair of pop flys and a groundout kept the Highlanders off the bases in the top of the second inning.
The Owls continued to struggle against Floyd Central sophomore pitcher Abby Letson in the second inning, as she pushed her strikeout total to four to keep the game at 0-0.
The Highlanders led off with a single and then reached off an error on a fielder’s choice in the top of the third inning.
Seymour High School senior catcher Katie Suits then made a crisp throw to third base, on a steal attempt, and senior shortstop Faith Rebber picked off the Floyd Central runner. After a sacrifice moved a Highlander runner to third base, Tori Snook dived for a flare in left field to keep the game knotted.
Letson continued to command the batter’s box in the bottom of the third, keeping the Owls off base and adding a pair of strikeouts.
The Highlanders’ bats started heating up in the fourth inning.
Senior Jensen Striegel led off with a triple for the Highlanders on a shot to left field before freshman Taryn Weddle followed up with an RBI single to center to put the Highlanders up 1-0.
With runners on first and third bases, the umpire called a dead- ball runner out to stop the Highlanders’ momentum.
Seymour High School went down in order again in the bottom of the fourth.
Owls sophomore pitcher Mikayla Moore and the Seymour High School defense took the Highlanders down in order for the second time in the game in the top of the fifth inning.
Haley Westfall got on base for the Owls with a bunt with two outs, but Letson struck the next batter out to close the fifth.
A pair of athletic catches by Rebber and a one-handed catch off a groundball and throw to first by Haley Mobley took the Highlanders down again in order in the top of the sixth inning.
Seymour High School went down in order with their next at-bats, as they trailed by a single run.
A hit-by-pitch and base-on-balls put Floyd runners on first and second bases, with no outs, in the top of the seventh inning.
Moore then struck out the next two batters and caught a pop out to keep the Highlanders off home.
With one out, Suits blasted a double to center that almost turned into a home run in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman Kate Snook followed by hitting a hard grounder to Letson, but the pitcher made the stop and got the throw to first base.
Seymour coach Jerry Burton then called for time to speak with courtesy runner Marie Lenart and the next batter, Rebber.
Out of the break, Lenart attempted to steal third base while batter Faith Rebber squared to bunt but was tagged out.
“We were going to try and steal third and hoped they would throw the ball away,” Burton said. “We had trouble getting hits, and I noticed their shortstop was playing over quite a bit. (Lenart) was actually safe, but we didn’t get the call. We were trying to make something happen.”
Moore had four strikeouts and one walk to go with the five hits for the Owls in seven innings of work.
“(Moore) pitched a great ballgame,” Burton said. “The defense played great defense behind her. I couldn’t have ask more of the pitching and the defense.”
Burton said the team played at a high level against their Hoosier Hills Conference foes.
“I’m so proud of the way these girls played,” he said. “It was just an amazing year with these young ladies. They worked extremely hard and gave us everything they had against (Floyd).”
Rebber, Suits, Westfall, Lenart, Lo Schmidt and McKenna Curry all will graduate from the Owls’ program.
“When I met with the seniors, I told them I don’t think they realize how much they’ve changed Seymour softball,” Burton said. “It wasn’t that long ago that Seymour wasn’t noted for softball. This group of seniors has changed that, and that’s what I want them to remember.”
Seymour High School finished its season 18-7, tying a school record for wins in a season set last spring. Floyd Central (26-7) will play at Gibson Southern in regional action.