Leo 2, Bishop Dwenger 1

Lions celebrate softball sectional title

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Pitcher leads Leo to sectional crown

– The limelight strikes fear in the heart of Lindsey Bowers, a shy young woman whose worst nightmares come not when she’s standing in the pitcher’s circle for the Leo Lions, but when someone, you know, asks her about it.

That’s pure agony. But the moment Bowers took the circle for the bottom of the seventh Wednesday night, with Leo clinging to a one-run lead and a sectional title waiting just three outs away?

Pure Composure City.

“Some games, if the fielding isn’t there or we have a bad inning, occasionally she’ll let down a little bit,” Leo softball coach Ben Shappell said of his shutdown pitcher, who shut down Bishop Dwenger 2-1 on three hits Wednesday in the championship game of the 3A Angola Sectional. “So I was very proud of her coming out in the seventh inning and getting back in it after we gave up a run.

“She was very loose all day, didn’t get tight at all. She had excellent location today, and that was the biggest key for her. When she’s hitting her spots, she’s hard to hit – and she was hitting her spots today.”

So much so, that she retired the first eight Saints before surrendering a single by Kristina Burkhart, then set down eight more in succession before back-to-back singles by Ali Irvine and Bailey Rupley finally produced a run for Dwenger in the sixth.

That, however, would be it for the Saints, as Bowers put them away 1-2-3 in the seventh to deliver the trophy to the Lions.

“I hit my spots, and the team rallied around me,” said Bowers, who got Jordan Schneider to ground out to second and then induced back-to-back tappers to the mound to close it.

The Lions gave Bowers all the runs she needed in the second and third.

In the second, Bowers delivered a two-out single, and Morgan Finton followed with an RBI double to the deep left-field corner to give Leo a 1-0 lead.

And in the third, Brooke Imel turned a leadoff walk into the winning run, stealing second, going to third on a fielding error and beating the tag at home on Robyn Hall’s ground ball to first.

Dwenger’s Demitra Burns pitched five innings of three-hit relief, striking out six. But it wasn’t quite enough to outdo her opposite number.

“She made some excellent pitches today, struck out girls when we needed her to strike them out,” Shappell said of Bowers.

“This is her first year pitching varsity, so she’s done awesome. We had Jessica Claxton the last four years, so she’s been watching, she’s been learning.”

And the winning that came of all the watching and learning? How did that feel?

“It feels good,” Bowers said.

Answer enough.

bensmith@jg.net

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