South on wrong end of duel
Sunday, June 15, 2014 6:00 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -- Anything you can do I can do better.
Photo by Lori Poteet
It wasn’t the final picture they wanted to take, but the Mounties took home runner-up hardware after losing to South Spencer in the state championship game.
Injury changed game
INDIANAPOLIS -- No excuses were given following Southmont's 1-0 loss in the State Finals to South Spencer.
The team walked out of the dugout, heads held high. A few players fought back the tears, but these Mounties made history. The Mounties were one run away from claiming the first team state title in school history.
South Spencer had chances to score multiple times in the game. Southmont's ace McKenzi Jordan battled out of jams in the fourth and sixth innings, confusing batters with strikeouts to end both innings.
An injury to Jordan's pitching hand changed the entire complexion of the game in the seventh inning. After giving up a leadoff double and getting the next batter to pop-up a would-be bunt to her, Jordan took a throw from catcher Korbin Myers. After faking a throw to pickoff the runner at second base, Jordan showed obvious signs of pain, shaking her right hand.
"Her injury was unfortunate," pitching coach Hilliary Endicott said.
Endicott said that Jordan peeled the fingernail back on one of her fingers. The injury affected the way she could grip the ball. Jordan could only throw fastballs the rest of the way.
"It hurt," Jordan said. "I'm a junk pitcher. I went from having a bunch of junk to no junk."
Jordan said that without her junk pitches there was one thing she could do - high and inside. Myers said that despite the change in pitching philosophy, the Mounties still had a chance.
"She hit her spot," Myers said. The girl just got around on it and hit it to the right spot."
Those were the unspoken words between the two starting pitchers in the Class 2A softball state finals Saturday at Ben Davis High School.
Southmont (23-9) fans saw recent graduate McKenzi Jordan in one last pitching battle, this time against South Spencer (27-5) and their ace pitcher, Kaylea Horn. The two pitchers did not disappoint as the two teams battled for a place in softball history - both teams were trying to win their first softball state title. South Spencer would eventually come away with a 1-0 victory. It was just the fifth time in Class 2A since the class tournament was installed in 1998 and the 14th time since 1985 that the state finals finished with a 1-0 score.
Jordan and Horn battled inning after inning. Horn would strike out two batters in an inning, Jordan responded in kind in the bottom of the frame.
"I thought she came out strong," Mountie pitching coach Hilliary Endicott said of her ace. "Then around the fifth inning she started dying off a bit with her speed. Adrenaline was with her in the beginning."
As the game went on it became apparent - the team that scored first very possibly was going to take home the title. South Spencer would not manage to find home plate until the bottom of the seventh inning, but that was all they would need in the 1-0 game.
"We knew it was likely to come down to that. We'd give anything to be on the other side of that one hit. But I told the girls, they made history today," said head coach Britney Carpenter. 'Not only for Southmont softball but for Southmont, period. They set a new standard. That's something they should be proud of."
Horn finished the game throwing a complete game shutout, giving up two hits to the Mounties, while striking out 11 batters. Jordan gave up six hits, four coming in the final two innings, striking out eight Rebel batters.
"We weren't as disciplined as we would like to be," Carpenter said. "I gave them credit. I told them I'd rather see them go up swinging than go up looking. I think had we had one more inning or two more innings we may have come through."
Jordan was able to work out of jams in the fourth inning, stranding a runner on third base, and sixth inning, stranding runners at second and third. Jordan ended both inning by getting batters to strike out with the bat still on their shoulder.
"You have to be there for your team," Jordan said. "I knew we could get out of those jams. It was just about execution."
"All year we have been working on her mental game," Endicott said. "We told her she just has to get those outs. She has always had the skill. She has grown mentally."
Jordan looked like she was going to find that magic again in the seventh inning. After giving up a leadoff double to centerfield, Jordan got the next batter to pop the ball up for the first out of the inning. An injury to her pitching hand changed the way the Mounties were able to pitch to batters. The very next batter hit a ball over Payton Thompson's outstretched glove in centerfield as she dove in an attempt to extend the game. The Rebels scored the game's lone run on the play.
"We knew we were going all the way with her. And she gave it all she had," Carpenter said.
Carpenter said that there was no consideration of relieving Jordan despite the injury.
"She got us here on the mound so we were going to let her finish it," Carpenter said. "The loss stings right now. But they're going to look back on this with nothing but good memories."