Whiteland softball edged by Mooresville

After a dominant 10-2 victory against rival Mooresville Pioneers Tuesday, the Whiteland softball team had clinched at least a share of the Mid-State Conference championship for the first time since 2010.

On Wednesday, the Class 4A No. 3 Warriors were hoping to claim the title outright, but a sterling pitching performance by starter Josi Hair allowed the host Pioneers to salvage a share of the crown with a 1-0 victory.

Hair gave up just five hits in blanking the Warriors (22-2, 13-1).

Whiteland senior Debbie Hill was nearly as dominant in the circle, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out five. She also had three of her team’s five hits.

“This season has been so special,” Hill said. “It’s my senior season, and I’m with three other seniors and we’ve been playing together since we were eight. It’s bittersweet to play our last year together. We have great team chemistry, which worked so well for us.”

The Warriors had multiple chances to score throughout the game, but in the end, they couldn’t get a runner home against Hair and the Pioneer defense.

Whiteland threatened at the very start of the game before Pioneers third baseman Kendall Grover pulled off an unassisted double play by tagging out two Warriors on the base paths.

The Warriors again looked poised to get on the board in the fourth and fifth innings after doubles by Hill and Halle Nett, but Hair pitched her way out of trouble both times, not allowing the ball to reach the outfield in either inning once a runner was in scoring position.

The third-ranked Pioneers (26-3, 13-1) scored their only run during the bottom half of the fourth inning. After Mooresville shortstop Alex Cooper singled and stole second base to open the frame, Mooresville batters followed with two sacrifice flies to advance Cooper to third and then drive her in with the game’s deciding run.

The Warriors saw their greatest chance to score multiple runs arrive in the top of the sixth inning, when a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly got runners to second and third. But Hair induced an inning-ending groundout before retiring Whiteland in order in the seventh.

Whiteland coach Katie Mitchell considers herself lucky to be part of such a successful season.

“I’m honored to know and coach these girls, with their character and work ethic,” she said. “I know they work really hard at their team chemistry on and off the field, and it shows. It helps them capitalize off their talent when they put it all together and trust each other.

“It’s definitely good to see them before sectionals. We know what to prepare for, and know we have to step on the gas fast to get ahead early and keep the momentum going.”

The Warriors will begin Class 4A sectional play at Mooresville next Tuesday evening, when they face a semifinal date against the winner of Monday’s Greenwood-Franklin game.