Andover softball wins share of AVCTL-II league title with Goddard, Eisenhower
ANDOVER – Having held on for a wild 1-0 victory over Goddard in the opener of a Tuesday softball doubleheader, Andover struck quickly in the nightcap, again scoring a first-inning run.
But a fourth-inning error proved costly to the Trojans, who surrendered five runs in the inning and had to settle for a split with the Lions (13-5, 9-3), 6-1.
The loss not only denied Andover (16-4, 9-3) an outright AVCTL Division II title but also allowed Eisenhower (13-3, 9-3) to sneak in and claim a share of a three-way title.
“Our schedule progressively got very tough on us,” said Andover coach Amisha Daniels, whose Trojans bolted to an 11-0 mark to start the season. “We play in a very tough league. So, we’ve learned a lot through all the past few games. I think we’ve capitalized on what we’ve learned. We still have some things to clean up before (regionals) next week. So, we’re going to focus on those in practice.”
Once the regionals begin, the glossy won-lost marks are washed away and everyone starts fresh at 0-0.
“We’ve got to have a fight-or-die mentality going in and just be scrappy and figure out how to come away with a win,” Daniels said.
In the opener, the Trojans had just about everything favoring them. Junior Bailey Way led off the Andover first inning by smacking the ball past Goddard right fielder Natalie Klenda-Lopez for an inside-the-park home run.
“That first pitch, (Goddard senior ace Kendal LeGrand) gave me a changeup, right down the middle,” Way said. “And, I took advantage of it. Usually, I’m not one to swing at first pitches very often, but I thought, ‘If she’s going to give it to me, I’m going to take it from her.’ She’s a great pitcher, and she’s not going to give me much.
“When you don’t get much, you’ve got to take what she gives you.”
Way also had a two-out triple to left field in the third, and only senior Millie Pryor’s bunt single in the third would be all the Trojans could muster against LeGrand, the Lions’ only senior.
LeGrand did her best to keep the Lions in the game. She struck out 15 and walked just one.
“(It was a) great ballgame that first game,” Goddard coach Rita Smith said. “Unfortunately, they got that inside-the-park, and we didn’t capitalize. We had runners in scoring position in the first, second and third innings and didn’t get that big hit.
“This league is very tough. Everybody’s pretty balanced, and there were no easy games, for sure.”
Andover senior Tess Eubank was right there with LeGrand, holding Goddard to two singles, with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Riding the wave of momentum from Game One, the Trojans again struck in the first inning, and it was Way getting it started with a line single to left. She stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch, where she was sacrificed in by freshman Alyssa Evans.
Eubank was rolling along until the fourth, when LeGrand hit a one-out single to center. She then walked Bailey Kimbell. Khloe Perkins then laid down a bunt, but the throw to first was wild, and courtesy runner Kori Kramer scored the tying run with Kimbell following right behind her with the tie-breaking run.
Goddard would plate three more before the threat could be stopped, then added one more in the seventh for the final margin.
Meanwhile, LeGrand had reverted to her form from Game One, scattering three hits (two by Way, and one by freshman Haley Ziser) and adding to her strikeout total on the day with 11 in the nightcap.
With her 13 strikeouts on the night, Eubank has tied the school record for career strikeouts in only three seasons of varsity play.
The tri-champions will learn their future Saturday when regional assignments are announced. Daniels said it is quite likely that Andover will begin with a home game.
“If you look at the three teams that are splitting (the league championship), you’ve got three of the best pitchers in the area, three of the toughest teams,” she said. “It’s a tough league, so you can’t hang your head about splitting with them.”
As nice as an outright title would have been, Daniels said a share is still a positive.
“We would have preferred that, but you can’t discount all the hard work the kids have put in,” she said. “Especially since we ended up last in league two years ago.”
Andover 1, Goddard 0
Goddard 000 000 0 – 0 2 0
Andover 100 000 0 – 1 3 2
W – Eubank. L – LeGrand. HR – Way (inside the park)
Goddard 6, Andover 1
Goddard 000 500 1 – 6 9 1
Andover 100 000 0 – 1 3 1
W – LeGrand. L – Eubank.