Vikings hold off Tiger Cubs for WIC softball win

May 9—Janelle Sullivan finished Thursday evening's Western Indiana Conference high school softball game as the only player in the West Vigo starting lineup without a hit.

The junior righthander was still one of the stars of the game for the Vikings, however, flirting with a no-hitter for half the game as her team eventually beat visiting Greencastle 4-2.

"The last couple of outings, she's been really good," coach Chris Nidiffer of West Vigo said of Sullivan, one of three members of a deep group of starting pitchers.

West Vigo looked ready to give its pitcher all the runs she needed in the bottom of the first inning, when the first four batters all got hits, beginning with Parker Auten's double on the first pitch of the inning and capped by Jaycee Elkins' two-run single.

But Greencastle pitcher Ali Hassler struck out the next four batters — "feast or famine," as Nidiffer said later — and allowed just five more hits the rest of the way.

One of those five came after the fourth straight strikeout, however, in keeping with Nidiffer's statement. With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Carlea Funk hit an 0-and-2 pitch over West Vigo's tall center-field fence and the lead was 3-0.

That looked like plenty for Sullivan until the fourth inning, when a leadoff walk and Greencastle's first two hits of the game loaded the bases with nobody out. No problem for the Viking pitcher, who induced two popups and a grounder — Funk scooping the throw out of the dirt at first base to save at least one run — and preserve her shutout.

"She got out of that jam, and that's big," Nidiffer noted. "When we let our defense do what it does, we're in good shape."

West Vigo added its fourth run in the bottom of the fifth when Auten — no famine for her — led off with another double, took third on a passed ball and scored on a bunt by Ariana Elkins. In the past two seasons, Auten is 6 for 7 with the two doubles and a 2023 homer against Hassler.

But the Tiger Cubs weren't finished, and a one-out walk in the top of the sixth preceded Lilly Franklin's second hit of the game and an RBI double ripped to left field by freshman Katie Detro. With two runners in scoring position, however, Sullivan got another hitter to pop up, then got help from Ariana Elkins' running catch in left-center that saved two runs.

Greencastle got its final run in the seventh, on a two-out RBI single by Haley Iseman, but Sullivan slipped a called third strike past dangerous Emma West to end the game.

With its sluggers (except for Auten) held mostly in check, West Vigo still found a way to win, and its coach saw that as a good sign.

"We've still got big plans [for the rest of the season]," Nidiffer said.

GREENCASTLE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Beaman ss 4-0-0-0, Iseman 3b 2-0-1-1, West 2b 3-1-1-0, Franklin 1b 3-0-2-0, Detro c 3-0-1-1, Hassler p 3-0-0-0, Creviston rf 2-0-0-0, Rumley ph-rf 1-0-0-0, Simmerman cf 3-1-1-0, Owens lf 3-0-0-0. Totals 27-2-6-2.

WEST VIGO (AB-R-H-RBI) — Auten lf 3-2-2-0, A.Elkins cf 2-1-1-1, Lindley 3b 3-0-1-0, J.Elkins ss 2-0-1-2, Blevins 2b 1-0-0-0, McCalister rf 3-0-1-0, Beeler 2b-ss 3-0-1-0, Rodgers dp 3-0-1-0, Coulston c 0-0-0-0, Sullivan p 3-0-0-0, Funk 1b 3-1-1-1. Totals 26-4-9-4.

Greencastle 000 001 1 — 2

West Vigo 210 010 x — 4

LOB — Greencastle 7, WV 5. 2B — Auten 2, McCalister, Detro. HR — Funk. SB — J.Elkins. SH — A.Elkins.

Greencastle IP H R ER BB SO

Hassler (L) 6 9 4 3 0 9

West Vigo IP H R ER BB SO

Sullivan (W) 7 6 2 1 3 6

WP — Sullivan, Hassler. PB — Detro, Coulston. T — 1:46.

Next — West Vigo (14-8, 6-2 WIC) plays Friday at Paris. Greencastle (9-8, 3-5) travels to Brown County on Friday to complete a suspended game from Tuesday.