MONTICELLO | Both Andrean and Woodlan had a blue feeling last June in Indianapolis. Woodlan finished runner-up in the Class 2A state championship game.
Andrean did the same thing, finishing one game short of a blue medal, in the Class 3A state final.
It was the Warriors singing the blues again Saturday night in Monticello in the Class 3A Twin Lakes Semistate. Andrean won 7-1 and advances to next Saturday's state championship game against Edgewood.
The 59ers hit two home runs and added three doubles against the Warriors (31-2).
The game at Ben Davis High School will mark the third time in four years the 59ers (27-4) will play for a state title.
“I'd been struggling, but this is the championship game so I thought I might as well break it open now,” said Andrean catcher Morghyn Neal, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning to change momentum early.
Woodlan had 13 hits as the Warriors pounded South Bend St. Joe's 11-4, but there was no fear with Andrean's Nikki Steinbach (25-2) pitching.
The battery mates were overjoyed with the win. The Ball State-bound Steinbach, who now only has one game left in her remarkable career, struck out nine and only allowed three hits.
“I'm overwhelmed right now,” Steinbach said.
“Are you going to cry, Nikki?” Neal asked.
“I was already crying,” Steinbach said as the two embraced in short center field.
The 59ers scored two more in the third. Savannah Kinsella led off the inning with a double and scored on a single by Kaitlin Barajas. Andrean would load the bases and Barajas scored on a beautiful bunt single by Maddi Lesch.
The 59ers tacked on two more in the sixth when Barajas drove a high two-run homer in deep left-center field.
Kinsella scored four runs on one hit. Barajas was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs.
This will be Andrean coach Brooke Baker-Runyon's fourth trip to the state finals. She took Lake Central to three state finals and won a championship in 2002. The former Miss Softball and Purdue star said this is much better.
“I feel more accomplished as a coach,” said Baker-Runyon, who is in her first year at 5959 Broadway. “I'm happy for the girls. They've worked hard and they deserve this. But this group has never won a state championship.
“We're going to work this week so we have an opportunity to do that.”