PORTER TWP. — Boone Grove softball coach Ron Saunders gathered his team following Monday afternoon’s 6-0 win over Porter County Conference rival Morgan Township and delivered a far different speech than he did last week after a sloppy win over Hebron.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for,” Saunders told the Wolves.
Every Boone Grove batter reached base on Monday and the Wolves scored runs in the first four innings to chip away at Morgan Twp. starter Esa Hill. Boone Grove failed to score in the fifth inning, but was still able to put a runner into scoring position. Rachel Wilkening delivered her third hit of the game in the sixth inning to drive in the final two runs of the game and put a wide smile on Saunders’ face.
“I could tell in pregame warmups that they were ready to go,” Saunders said. “It’s like I had a different team out there (than last week).”
The Wolves (10-1, 4-0) fell to Kankakee Valley at home last week before bouncing back with wins over Westville and Hebron. The Hebron game was marred by fundamental mistakes and, despite the victory, there were few smiles coming from the Boone Grove dugout after the game. With prom held on Saturday, the Wolves came to the field on Monday reenergized and ready to start the next phase of their season.
“Our focus was better today, and you could tell that we were all focused on the game,” Wilkening said. “Of course (prom) was in the back of our minds (last week), but we came back this week ready to get back to work.”
Wilkening, who was named Boone Grove’s Prom Princess on Saturday, drove in Taylor Howell in the first inning and then added a two-run double in the sixth inning. Driving in Howell helped set the tone on Monday and Boone Grove’s ability to capitalize off a leadoff base runner has been a staple of the team’s success over the last several years.
“Taylor has led off every game for me since she’s been here,” Saunders said. “Before every game, she’ll come up to me, or I’ll go up to her and I’ll say ‘You go, we go.’ That’s what it is. It’s just something that works for us.”
Ohio State commit Taylor Stevens reached base all four times for the Wolves while Angie Marcheschi threw a complete-game shutout, striking out three and walking none. Morgan Twp. catcher Emmy Wells had three hits for the Cherokees (9-2, 3-1). The freshman leads the team with 25 hits. Monday’s game snapped Morgan Twp.’s nine-game winning streak. The Cherokees hadn’t lost since dropping the season opener to Wheeler on Apr. 8.