It’s going to take more than a sectional title to satisfy the Edinburgh softball team.
Ranked eighth in Class A, the Lancers weren’t expected to face much resistance in their three sectional games this week, and Friday’s championship game, a 16-0 rout of Greenwood Christian, was no more challenging than the two games leading up to it had been.
Edinburgh outscored its sectional opponents by a 34-2 total, and yet the team insists there’s much more work to be done.
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“We definitely need to get in the hitting barn,” said senior shortstop Brianna Howard, one of three Lancers to go 3 for 3 on Friday.
The Lancers (20-5) will play a regional game Tuesday evening at the winner of today’s Rising Sun Sectional final between No. 3 Hauser and Oldenburg Academy.
The expectation — and hope — is that the opponent will be the Jets, who have been somewhat of a nemesis of late. Hauser won both regular-season meetings with Edinburgh, pulling out 8-7 and 3-2 victories back in early April.
“We’re so much better now,” Howard said of the Lancers’ progress since then. “We have tighter defense, we know how to hit the ball now. We’re so much stronger. We’re ready.”
After stranding a pair of runners in a scoreless first inning Friday, Edinburgh broke out for six runs in the second.
Paige Burton started the rally with a two-out single and Howard followed with a double before Bailey Woodall knocked both of them in with a base hit to right. Maddi Clark walked and Sidney Beier singled in a run to make it 3-0 before Vanessa McManaway doubled that lead with a blast over the left-field fence.
“I wasn’t even looking for that,” McManaway said. “I was trying to get a base hit or anything to score a run.”
Burton and Howard got the Lancers going again in the third, poking back-to-back doubles with one out to produce another run. Woodall then beat out an infield hit, and after Clark walked again to load the bases, Beier and McManaway both drew free passes to push runs across for a 9-0 lead.
Grace Joiner and Emma Wade then each singled in a pair of runners, and Burton’s second two-bagger of the inning brought Wade in. A base hit by Woodall plated the ninth run of the frame.
Edinburgh’s final run came in the fourth when Clark singled, took third on a Beier double and scored on an error.
Clark, meanwhile, coasted through the Greenwood Christian lineup without yielding a hit. The junior struck out eight of the first 12 batters she faced and nine overall. The Cougars’ lone baserunner reached on an error in the third inning.
Despite the defeat, Greenwood Christian coach Bill Hardwick was already looking back fondly at the program’s fourth season, its best to date.
“We had a great team, and they are a team,” Hardwick said. “They lift each other up when they get down. There’s magic with these girls, so I have no doubt we’ll be back next year.”
The Lancers, meanwhile, have their sights set on bigger things.
“We’ve got some ability there,” coach Stephen Clark said. “If we lose because somebody just flat out beats us, that’s great, but I think we’ve got a chance to go a little further.”
“Our plan is to get past regionals,” McManaway added, “and I think we have a really good chance of doing that.”