Franklin pitcher Olivia Paszek has always done well against neighboring softball rival Whiteland but didn’t want to leave anything to chance in her team’s Class 4A sectional first-round game on Monday afternoon.
“I wanted to pitch like it was my last game and leave it all on the field,” the senior said.
Considering the Warriors beat the Grizzly Cubs in a shutout decision earlier this season and considering the IHSAA tournament is a single-elimination format, her comment was no overstatement.
Paszek made sure it wasn’t her last game in a 2-0 decision in Monday’s second first-round contest. She struck out seven batters and yielded just three hits, improving her record to 14-6 on the season.
Moreover, after allowing Whiteland a pair of hits in the second inning, Paszek retired 15 of the final 17 batters she faced. She allowed only a single in the third inning and her lone walk in the sixth.
“(Olivia) kept them off balance, kept the ball down and overall hit her spots,” said coach Joe Paszek, whose Grizzly Cubs (15-9) now face eighth-ranked Franklin Central in today’s semifinals round on the same diamond.
For Whiteland coach Scott Montgomery, Olivia Paszek’s efforts were nothing new.
For the past several seasons, the Warriors haven’t been able to do much with the Franklin pitcher. Whiteland won against her in a 1-0 verdict earlier this spring but also suffered a loss against the right-handed senior.
“I know we are a better hitting team than that,” Montgomery said. “She’s (Paszek) a great pitcher and kept us off balance for four years.”
“We couldn’t really hit the ball well, and we played on our heels,” Olivia Paszek said, recalling the Whiteland triumph early in the month.
Franklin scored just two runs this time around but got all the scoring it needed in the sixth inning.
After shortstop Whitney Shapp reached on an error and Olivia Paszek singled, sister Grace Paszek drove in Shapp with a base hit, and senior Stephanie Janczak brought in Olivia Paszek.
Their coach was especially pleased with the execution demonstrated by his charges.
“When we got runners in scoring position, we wanted to make sure we put the ball in play,” coach Paszek said. “A great example of that was when Stephanie Janczak was up with a runner on second.
“She shortened up and drove the ball on the ground like we’ve been doing in practice, so I give her a ton of credit for that.”
Montgomery naturally was disappointed with the outcome, but the Warriors coach was impressed with his own pitcher, sophomore Danielle Munn, who limited Franklin to four hits and chalked up five strikeouts.
“There were a couple of plays we didn’t make behind her. But this year, Danielle has been phenomenal. I can’t wait to see what she does in the future because she’s going to help make the team much stronger.”
Whiteland wrapped up its season with a 12-15 mark.