WINAMAC | Tuesday night was just about perfect for the Wheeler softball team.
With the exception of a first-inning walk issued by pitcher Nickole Finch and a couple of Wheeler mistakes on the base paths, the Bearcats played mistake-free softball in a 10-0 victory over Winamac.
The Bearcats (18-7) won their first regional championship since the state title run in 2010.
"Absolutely," Finch said when asked if this was Wheeler's best performance of the season. "Everyone was doing their job (Tuesday). Everyone made plays."
The Bearcats collected 13 hits and pecked away at the Warriors two or three runs at a time starting in the second inning. Wheeler junior Karessa "Bug" Sweeney blasted a two-run home run in the sixth that put the Bearcats up 10-0. Sweeney finished the night with three hits, three runs and three RBIs.
"I thought earlier that it would be so cool to 10-run someone at the regional," Sweeney said. "Nickole does her part and we know we need to score some runs."
Finch's no-hitter was the second of her Wheeler career and the junior pitcher was aided by some impressive defense. Alex Sanchez made a strong play at third base and Alexa Fratzke caught a fly ball at the wall, the only time Winamac hit a ball out of the infield.
"We'd be undefeated if we hit the ball and played defense like that every game," Wheeler coach Marc Bruner said. "We played crisp."
Finch finished with eight strikeouts in six strong innings while battling a chest cold that has plagued her since a game against Lake Station earlier in the postseason. The junior added a double and reached base three times.
"I've had the minor flu, but it wasn't really bothering me tonight, so I'm done letting it affect me," Finch said. "This is just an unbelievable feeling right now. I can see it now that we can go far."