PREP SOFTBALL

Andrean slides past Gavit for regional softball crown

2011-05-31T20:45:00Z Andrean slides past Gavit for regional softball crownBy Robby Howard Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 31, 2011 8:45 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | There was no trophy presentation.

No parents came out on the field to take pictures of their winning team and not a single player was smiling. Instead, the eyes of every person in an Andrean softball uniform were locked on the coach, listening intently to every word he spoke after the game.

Despite its subdued surroundings, the 59ers had just won their third consecutive regional title by defeating Gavit 1-0. But that alone wasn't enough.

"I talked to these guys about focus," Andrean coach Henry Ryan said. "We need to focus better."

One word summed up Ryan's feelings and those of several of players after the game: frustration.

"It's kind of frustrating in a sense," Ryan said. "Sometimes the ball just doesn't do its job."

Ryan went into the game hoping to throw ace Nikki Steinbach for only two innings and wanting all 17 of his athletes to have a chance to play. Instead, Steinbach pitched another complete game -- giving up one hit and striking out 17 -- and only 11 59ers saw action.

"I honestly wasn't expecting a 1-0 win today," Ryan said. "But it's a win and we're moving on."

Andrean will face Mishawaka Marian-Columbia City winner at 10 a.m. Saturday in the first round of the Twin Lakes Semistate.

Ryan's daughter, catcher Kelly Ryan, was upset afterward because she knew this was not the 59ers' best performance.

"It was frustrating because we know we can do better than that," Kelly said.

Andrean can't ask Steinbach to do much more on the mound. She took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Erika Ramirez dropped a hit just beyond the reach of two 59ers fielders into shallow right.

"I don't care about (losing the no-hitter) as long as we win," Steinbach said.

Kelly Ryan called for the curveball from Steinbach "a lot" to try to strike batters out. Steinbach has 61 strikeouts in 28 innings during Andrean's tournament run.

"She has a ton of pitches and she has control over all of them," Kelly said of Steinbach. "We went outside a lot today. It seemed to be working."

Despite having 11 players reach base on eight hits against Gavit's Elyssia Alamillo, Kelly Ryan scored the 59ers' only run. She doubled to lead off the second inning and scored on a throwing error following a Kaitlin Barajas hit.

While the 59ers appeared disappointed after their win, Gavit coach Lisa Mendoza conveyed nothing but pride in her team after the loss. The Gladiators fell to Andrean in last year's regional, but in much more lopsided fashion.

"To lose 1-0, we had a great defensive game," said Mendoza, whose club lost 16-6 a season ago.

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