SOUTH WHITLEY – A matchup that was nearly even on paper turned out to be just as close on the softball diamond Wednesday evening.

In a key Three Rivers Conference matchup at Whitko High School, the host Lady Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the third inning but eventually lost 2-1 to the North Miami Lady Warriors.

Whitko’s Ellie Snep and North Miami’s Ashley Lackman were engaged in a terrific pitchers duel, as each junior pitched a complete game, and the pair combined for 18 strikeouts and no walks while giving up just nine hits between them.

The difference in the game was a two-run homer in the fourth inning by North Miami sophomore Maryann Freeman.

“They were pitching very well today, both of them,” Whitko coach Michele Garr said of Snep and Lackman. “On our end, we just didn’t make adjustments at the plate.

“It looked like (Lackman) was kind of throwing a rise ball, and we were just chasing it.”

Lackman gave up just four hits en route to the pitching win. She struck out 10 Whitko batters.

Junior Emalee Duggins and freshman Madison Smith hit doubles for the Lady Wildcats, who fell to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in the TRC, while freshman Augusta Garr and Snep hit singles.

Garr’s single drove in Duggins in the third inning.

North Miami, now 13-3 overall and 5-2 in TRC play, managed five hits off Snep, who struck out eight.

Junior Marlie Halterman tripled and singled for the Lady Warriors, while sophomore Hannah Hall hit two singles, Lackman a single, and Freeman the game-changing home run.

“Ellie did what she was supposed to do, she put it in the outer part of the batter’s box, that girl just went out and got it,” Garr said of Freeman’s homer.

“We threw what we were supposed to throw, their girl just hit it.”

Trying to get a rally started for the home team, Smith hit a two-out double in the fifth inning, but Lackman retired the final seven batters she faced, with four of them striking out.

“It was just a good game between two good teams,” said Garr. “Defensively, we did a really good job. It was just a matter of who was gonna have the big hit.”

Freeman took care of that.

Rochester sits alone in first place in the 10-team TRC with a 7-0 record, while Manchester and North Miami are 5-2 and Whitko 4-2.

With a 21-3 win over Southwood Wednesday, Rochester clinched at least a share of the conference title. The Lady Zebras can win the TRC outright with a win over Northfield on Monday.

Whitko is in action again Saturday in a nonconference game at Heritage.


NM    000    200    0    –    2

W    001    000    0    –    1

North Miami – Ashley Lackman (W, 7IP, 4H, 1R, 0BB, 10K).

Whitko – Ellie Snep (L, 7IP, 5H, 2R, 0BB, 8K).

2B – Emalee Duggins (W), Madison Smith (2B)

3B – Marlie Halterman (NM)

HR – Maryann Freeman (NM)

Records: North Miami 13-3 (5-2 TRC), Whitko 15-4 (4-2 TRC)