Softball Sectional

Chargers season ends vs 2nd ranked Panthers


MONTICELLO – North Montgomery’s softball team’s season came to a conclusion with a 13-1 loss in the 3A sectional 18 semifinals to Western.

The Chargers season ends with a 5-20 record, while Western, the No. 2 ranked team in 3A, moves to 24-2. They advance to the finals to face West Lafayette.

The season did come to an end, but the conversation was very much geared towards the future, as all but one member of the team returns for more varsity action.

“Next year starts right now,” Chargers coach Rob Earley said. “Softball is a 12-month sport, and while we only have set times for organized practice and games, there is always work that can be done.

“Getting some swings in, working on defensive skills, playing travel or pickup ball, and more. Getting reps in is what we need to do to improve on the improvement we saw this season. We put great energy into this season. Now it’s time to put that into the offseason.”

The game itself was a microcosm of the Chargers season.

Errors gave the Panthers extra at-bats, and with a team hitting .411, North could not afford to give away those extra swings, hits or runners.

Western took advantage of five errors in the first inning to score seven runs. Five of those scores were unearned, and five runs came in after there were two outs.

There were four more runs scored in the second inning on the Panthers’ 32nd home run of the season. A run in the third and another in the fourth capped the scoring for Western, who tallied 10 hits while utilizing seven total errors.

“We averaged 4.9 errors per game this season,” Earley noted. “That’s like giving teams almost an extra two innings of at-bats. We certainly know that this is one of those areas where offseason reps and experience will hopefully make us better. We just don’t have the offensive power to give away that much.”

The Chargers were stymied at the plate by Western pitcher Kylie Miller. The junior threw a no-hitter, as North picked up an unearned run in the third. She walked two and struck out 14 to run her record to 9-0.

That run for North came when Sophia Shea came in to pinch-hit. The sophomore drew a walk, her 14th of the season, and team-best, which made her the first Charger on the basepaths.

She stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on a second error, the only two registered to Western in the game. Shea scored her 19th run of the season, tied for second best with Ella McManomy behind Piper Ramey’s 26.

McManomy and Ramey were honored earlier this week in the All-Sagamore Conference voting.

Ramey was voted to the first team, and McManomy to the second.

They were the pitcher/catcher combination against Western. Ramey walked two and struck out two.

Two of those hits were home runs by Western sophomore Jocelyn Jeffers, who had a shot over the left-field fence in the big first inning and had a wind-aided dinger in the second. It was Jeffer’s second and third home runs of the season. Ramey had all six of the Chargers’ home runs this season.

The only North player that hangs up her jersey to grab a graduation gown is Megan Raff.

“Megan has put in so much work in four years with the program,” Earley said. “As a freshman, she was named Most Improved, and has done a lot off the softball field, with a couple scholarships, including the Raelyn Earley scholarship. She embodies all the qualities that Raelyn brought, which makes us all proud.”

There will be plenty of competition for playing spots next season, starting with the two all-Sagamore players.

“I’m excited for next season,” the coach said. “We shouldn’t miss a beat, and with offseason work, we will have experience everywhere. There are five eighth graders that are going to be coming up, though, and we know they will be fighting for playing time. It’s really good to have the numbers like that. We have players like Faith Shirar, who had to battle back from a big injury. We give out three major awards -MVP, Most Improved and Mental Attitude. Faith was out Mental Attitude Award winner last season, and we look for her leadership, with the other three juniors, next season.”

This season’s awards have not been handed out yet.