By Jake Thompson
PLAINFIELD — Sitting in Class 2A and representing the smallest class school competing in the Hendricks County Softball Tournament, the climb to the top of the county softball mountain has never been easy, or for that matter likely for the Cascade Cadets.
However, the Cadets have positioned themselves as one of the county’s elite, winning two of the last three county titles including last night’s 2-1 victory over the Class 4A defending state champion Plainfield Quakers.
The key to Cascade’s victory was simple, the Cadets played superbly in each facet of the game.
Butler-bound senior Brandyce Sallee led the Cadets both offensively and defensively as the Cadets’ lone senior went 3 for 4 with a home run, double and single.
“We are always the underdogs when it comes to the county tournaments,” Sallee said. “Coming out on top really feels great.”
Plainfield took an early 1-0 lead on a solo homerun from pitcher Erin Laswell in the second and Sallee answered with a homer in the third to tie it up. That shot over the right field fence gave Cascade a spark, according to Cadets coach Don Helmick.
Helmick said after the game the girls did not want to let Sallee down and one of those players was junior Kayla Havens.
Havens, who said she’s looked up to Sallee from a young age, made sure that wouldn’t happen.
After a sacrifice bunt from Sydney Stein in the top of the sixth moved Sallee from second to third, Havens stepped to the plate. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Havens connected on a single that brought Sallee home for the deciding run.
“I knew I had to get a bat on it and turned on it and booked it to first,” Havens said. “Brandyce doesn’t get excited that often and just seeing the smile on her face is just really awesome. It’s great to see her really excited because she knows she has a solid team behind her.”
Cascade pitchers Kellie Mink and Kate Breedlove hit their spots and worked from ahead in the count most of the night.
Mink went four innings, collecting 4 Ks while giving up just three hits. Breedlove finished the contest, also striking out four, including two of the last three Quakers’ batters in the seventh inning.
“The way Plainfield slapped the ball was a huge concern of ours,” Helmick said of the Quakers’ hitting. “I felt Plainfield’s ability was going to score some runs, but when your pitchers are doing those things, it’s hard for any team.”
Defensively, Cascade committed no errors and played rock solid all game.
While the Cadets played mistake free softball, Plainfield coach Brad Beaman said the Quakers’ troubles started at the plate where they had been hitting the ball well lately and ended with two costly fielding errors in the sixth.
“Overall, it was a tight ballgame and it came down to whoever made the first mistake and we made it,” Beaman said. “There’s times in a game when you go flat but you have to find a way to turn the switch back on.”
Laswell hit her third homer of the season and pitched seven innings with 5 Ks, giving up five hits to lead Plainfield.
Also recording hits for the Quakers were Maggie Stahl, Mackenzie Reeder and Kylie Cason.