Softball: Jacobs advances to sectional final

On the strength of another dominant start from senior Katie Kirker, Jacobs topped Rockton Hononegah 3-0 Friday in Class 4A sectional play at Cary-Grove High School.

Coming off a one-hit shutout in the regional championship game, Kirker (5-1) was equally impressive for the Golden Eagles on Friday, as she allowed just two hits while striking out 11 and walking none.

“What more can you say about Katie, she’s pitched phenomenal here when we needed her most,” Jacobs coach Jeremy Bauer said.

Saddled by injuries much of her high school career, Kirker returned from her most recent injury on May 12 against the very same Rockton Hononegah team. The Eagles lost that game 8-5, but they have now won seven straight since then.

With Kirker pitching so well, the Eagles didn’t need much offense. When her teammates spotted her one run in each of the first three innings, that was more than enough.

“Our goal today was to get four (runs), we didn’t get that but we got the runs we needed and Katie made it hold up,” Bauer said.

The Eagles (24-14) got on the board in the first when Jacquelyn Hengler drew a walk to lead off the game and then used her speed to go first to third on a wild pitch. She scored when the catcher’s throw got away from the third baseman.

Kelsey Cummings led off the second inning with a single, moved to second on a single by Danielle O’Toole and scored on an RBI groundout from Kaitlynn Woloszyk.

The Eagles capped the scoring in the third when they again got the leadoff batter on when Alyssa Lach singled to right field, advanced to second when the right fielder misplayed it, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from Maggie Hansen.

On the other side of the ball, strong defense continues to be something the Eagles can hang their hats on. They played error-free once again.

“The team’s played great, errorless defense and I couldn’t ask anything more from them,” Kirker said. “They take all the pressure off me when I pitch and I’m really lucky to have them behind me.”

A single from Stevie Atterbury in the first inning, as single from Alex Lawver in the fifth inning, and a hit by pitch from Chloe Howerth in the sixth inning were the only baserunners the Indians (30-7) usually high-powered offense managed.

“There hasn’t been many times where our bats have been silenced like they were today,” Indians coach Lisa Larson said. “It’s not typical of us to not string together some hits, but you have to give (Kirker) credit. She was on top of her game today.”

Atterbury took the loss for the Vikings, going three innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out one.

Jacobs advances to the sectional finals where it will take on Carmel High School Saturday at 11 a.m. for a shot at the school’s first sectional softball title.

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