Whitko senior Anna Ousley makes solid contact with the ball during her turn at bat in the fifth inning. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Whitko senior Anna Ousley makes solid contact with the ball during her turn at bat in the fifth inning. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
AKRON – The Tippecanoe Valley Lady Vikings got off to a great start Wednesday evening, leading them to the end result they were looking for.

In a high school softball matchup with Three Rivers Conference rival Whitko, the third-ranked team in Class 2A, Valley scored three runs in the first inning and went on to win 3-1.

Wednesday’s win, a victory Valley Athletic Director Duane Burkhart called the program’s biggest win in his 35 years at the school, avenged a 20-0 loss to Whitko on April 28. Whitko junior Ellie Snep was perfect in the circle that day, not allowing any base runners in the five-inning game.

“We played softball as a team, that’s all I can say,” said Valley coach Daryl Shoemaker, whose team improved to 6-12 overall and 4-5 in the TRC, while Whitko fell to 17-5 and 5-3.

“We’ve been saying that to them all year. If everything works right, even with an error here or a strikeout here, when you play softball collectively and you pick each other up from mistakes, you’re gonna be in a game.

“We scored early, and we played probably the best defensive game we have all year. Everybody was in the right spot and talking.”

In the April 28 matchup in the consolation game of the Tippecanoe Valley Tournament, the Lady Vikings gave up 16 hits and committed six errors in the field.

On Wednesday, Valley had just one error in the field and got a strong performance in the circle from sophomore Mayde Fear, who scattered eight hits in seven innings of work.

Fear walked three Whitko batters and struck out three.

The only run she gave up was earned, and it came in the top of the seventh inning on an RBI single by Makayla Berg.

“She was great,” Shoemaker said of Fear. “We’ve pitched Mayde a few times, and she’s usually come in and done well. She’s come in late in games. We’ve been wanting to get her a start, and she didn’t get rattled. She understood to rely on the defense, and she was just tough. Nothing shook her tonight.”

All eight of Whitko’s hits were singles. Anna Ousley led the Lady Wildcats with three hits, while Hopkins had two and Ellie Snep, Misha Brandenburg and Berg had one each.

“(Valley) had a few bloopers that fell. We didn’t make adjustments in the box and couldn’t hit the ball,” said Whitko coach Michele Garr. “And we left too many on base.”

Whitko left 11 runners on base.

Valley got six hits – all singles – off Snep, who gave up just one hit in her last two outings against the Lady Vikings.

Snep struck out eight and walked three in six innings of work Wednesday.

Amy Baca, Bailey Engholm, Alex Gomez, Kayla Scott, Jordan Krotke and Kirstyn Yoder had one hit each in the win.

Yoder, Gomez and Scott ripped their hits in the first inning, as the Lady Vikings scored all three of their runs with two outs.

“That was huge, especially for our team,” Shoemaker said of putting runs on the board early. “It’s been a rough year. We didn’t have a big win yet. The confidence thing is what we needed, so the early lead was huge.

“Snep no-hit us earlier this year and one-hit us last year. We had one hit the last two times we faced her. For us to score on her early, that was a huge confidence boost, and we got more excited the more zeros (on the scoreboard) we saw for Whitko.”

Valley hosts county rival Warsaw Friday and then plays the host team Monday in the Class 3A sectional at Fairfield High School.

Whitko plays at Southwood tonight, and then hosts Norwell for a doubleheader Saturday.

The Lady Wildcats drew a bye for the 2A sectional at Oak Hill and will play Wabash in the semifinals on May 23.

“We can’t take anybody for granted,” Garr said of what her and the Lady Wildcats will take from Wednesday’s loss as the postseason approaches. “We have to come in with better energy. We have to come out ready to go every game.”


W    000    000    1    –    1

TV    300    000    X    –    3

Whitko – Ellie Snep (L, 6IP, 6H, 3R, 3BB, 8K)

Valley – Mayde Fear (W, 7IP, 8H, 1R, 3BB, 3)

Records: Whitko 17-5 (5-3 TRC), Valley 6-12 (4-5 TRC)