WINDSOR — Sam Unkel hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to lift Green Ridge to a 3-2 win over Lincoln in the championship game of the District 13 tournament on Wednesday.
Unkel’s blast down the line to left came with one out and BreAnna Peck on second.
“It was awesome,” she said. “It felt good. It felt like a good hit.”
Peck’s double immediately before the home run broke a string of 12 consecutive batters retired by Lincoln pitcher Sloan Swearngin. When the top of the Green Ridge order came up in the third, Swearngin struck out all three swinging.
In the game, Swearngin struck out 13, including five in a row at one point. After allowing a run in the first, she held the Lady Tigers scoreless for the next four innings, working around a one-out double in the second and setting Green Ridge down one-two-three in the third, fourth and fifth.
“Sloan really stepped up when she had to,” said Lincoln coach Staci Siercks. “She threw extremely well. Our girls really stepped up and made plays when they had to and it comes down to one play. That’s how the game of softball is. It was a good game. They did enough to win.”
Green Ridge got to her in the first inning. Unkel doubled and Molly Turner followed with an RBI single up the middle to make it 1-0.
“We were just waiting on the good pitches to come in,” said Green Ridge coach Melissa Brock. “We like to chase after the high ones so we were just making sure we time it out.”
While Swearngin was shutting down the Lady Tigers, in the circle for Green Ridge, Unkel was working around trouble. In the first inning, she struck out Shelby Vandaveer after Seana Hansen reached on a two-out error. In the second, Unkel got help from her defense. With Morgan Strathman on third and one out, Unkel induced a 1-3-2 double play to end the inning.
“At the beginning I was kind of struggling, but I think overall I did OK,” Unkel said. “It wasn’t my best game but I think I did alright.”
Lincoln scored in the third when Paige Kahler came home on a wild pitch.
“What we’ve been working on all year is just moving runners,” Siercks said. “Once we get somebody on, it’s a lot easier to play the game of softball when you have runners to get in scoring position and you can move then if you get contact.”
Unkel kept the Lady Cardinals off the board in a one-two-three fourth inning and worked around an error in the fifth.
Lincoln took the lead in the top of the sixth inning. A Swearngin bloop single to right advanced Vandaveer and Vandaveer scored on a groundout to short one batter later.
“We usually get down and then we get a lead,” Unkel said. “I have faith in my team.”
After Green Ridge took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, Lincoln led off the seventh with an infield single from Elissa Sell but a pop out to short, a strikeout and a grounder back to Unkel ended the game.
Lincoln ends its season 9-6.
The Lady Tigers (11-2) now advance to the sectional on Monday where they will play the winner of District 14. That wasn’t on the schedule a year ago as this season marks the debut of the Missouri State Activities Association’s spring softball championship.
“It’s really exciting,” Unkel said. “Knowing that we won our first district and hopefully we do it next year too.”