By Jeff Robison
CLAYTON — A year ago, the Cascade Cadets softball team had to deal with the disappointment of knowing they had pushed eventual 2012 Class 2A state champion South Putnam to the limit in a 12-inning 3-2 loss in the Sectional 44 championship game.
With that in mind, the Class 2A third-ranked Cadets left no doubt of their mission for the 2013 season as pitcher Kate Breedlove struck out 14 batters and all nine Cascade batters had hits as Cascade claimed this year’s Sectional 44 title with a five-inning, 11-0 rout of the Cloverdale Clovers at Cascade High School Thursday night.
Cascade coach Don Helmick was more than satisfied with the way his team dominated the opening round of the tournament.
“We are more focused and coming together as a team,” Helmick said. “These are great kids who have come together and are enjoying each other. It does not seem to matter who we have played this year. (Our pitchers) are getting 11 or 12 strikeouts per game, and we have been hitting the ball.”
One night after teammate Kellie Mink sat down 14 batters to get Cascade into the title game, Breedlove equaled the accomplishment. Only three Clovers reached base, with a bunt single for Cloverdale’s Beka Jordan the only hit charged to Breedlove.
“My rise ball was very on tonight,” Breedlove said. “I think we are working well as a team right now. I think we will be good (in the regional).”
While the Cascade pitching made winning easier, so did the Cadets’ hitting. The nine members of the Cadets’ starting lineup shared 16 hits.
Sydney Stein, who paced Cascade with an RBI on each of her three hits, plated leadoff hitter Brandyce Sallee in the top of the first, and Morgan Burch drove Stein home as the Cadets picked away at Cloverdale pitcher Kat Raisor for a 2-0 start.
“We jumped on them in the first inning,” Helmick said. “Raisor was a little tired pitching for her third straight night. But, we went up and found the center of the ball.”
Two unearned runs were added in the second after Cloverdale second baseman Adri Patterson misplayed a ground ball from Sallee, followed by Stein’s second hit and RBI. Two more runs were added the next inning when Collier hit a double to the left field gap.
Cascade set up an early ending in the fifth inning as five hits, a walk, and another Cloverdale error generated five more runs.
With the Sectional 44 title, the 24-1 Cadets earned the right to host Sectional 43 winner Indianapolis Scecina, a program that owns five regional titles and one state title. The Crusaders last regional win was just two years ago.
“(Playing Scecina) is a great opportunity,” Helmick said. “If we did not win this game, we would not be talking about it. (Scecina) has a pitcher that throws some heat, and we know they have a lot of speed and some good hitters. We will definitely leave it all on the field.”
Cascade hosts the regional game and is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 28.