By Jake Thompson
MARTINSVILLE — Timely hitting helped lift the Plainfield Quakers softball team above all of the competition in the Class 4A, Sectional 12 at Martinsville this week.
Plainfield junior Mackenzie Reeder was the latest Quaker to send the ball over the fence in a key situation. Reeder’s two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning capped the scoring for the night and propelled Plainfield to a 3-0 win over Northview for the sectional title.
“I feel amazing,” Reeder said. “I had no idea it was going out. We came together really well and did exactly what we needed when we needed. Everyone worked together.”
For Plainfield coach Brad Beaman, who coached the Quakers to a state title last season, winning back-to-back sectional championships was definitely a major accomplishment.
“Not to take away from any of the next steps, but a sectional is hard to win because there is so many teams in it,” Beaman said. “I can’t put this effort into words because everyone was digging deep.”
The pivotal moment of the game came on a two-out rally by the Quakers in the bottom of the third and the Knights never recovered.
Northview pitcher Whitney Halfhill struck out Plainfield’s Brooke Bryant and then walked leadoff hitter Maggie Stahl. A single by freshman Kendyl Wheeler put the two Quakers on base and after a passed ball from Halfhill to catcher Ashley Hughes, Stahl advanced to third and Wheeler took a spot on second.
Another passed ball brought Stahl home for a 1-0 Quakers lead.
Beaman said he saw a “little swagger at the plate” from Reeder and the junior let loose, sending the ball over the centerfield fence.
That series of events put the Quakers on the board with a three-run advantage, but Plainfield’s pitching and defense solidified the win.
Erin Laswell threw a shutout, striking out seven Knights along the way and had tremendous help along the way from her teammates.
“I’m so proud of my defense,” Laswell said. “They’ve stepped up and made every play that they can. The only plays that get by them are the gap shots that are my fault and on me. Everything else, they’ve shut down in the postseason.”
After Plainfield grabbed the lead in the bottom of the third, Laswell ended the fourth with her second strikeout of the inning.
Reeder closed the fifth with a great foul catch next to the Northview dugout and made several accurate throws to Bruhn at first throughout the game.
Bryant made a great running catch from centerfield to end the sixth.
Wheeler ended the game, picking up a grounder and firing it precisely to Bruhn.
Mackenzie Jeffries was rock solid from her spot at second base throughout the entire contest. The senior covered first, ran down pop-ups and made every throw needed.
Plainfield hosts the regional game and takes on the winner of the Southport sectional at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28.
“I feel like this is the ultimate success for us to come back and win sectionals two years in a row,” Laswell said. “We had so many (teams) coming for us this year.”