MIDDLEBURY — Penn made Northridge’s softball field look very small in Tuesday’s Class 4A Regional final.
The Kingsmen hit five homers as part of a 15-1 triumph over the Raiders.
It’s the sixth straight regional title for Penn and their 19th overall.
The 23-6 Kingsmen advance to face either Leo or Homestead in a semi-state semifinal game this Saturday at 11 a.m. in West Lafayette. The Leo-Homestead contest was canceled on Tuesday and will be played at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Homestead.
“We’re really proud of our (regional) success,” Penn coach Beth Zachary said. “Our kids are being rewarded for their work ethic and dedication. This is all about the time and energy our kids have put in during the offseason.”
It didn’t take long for Zachary’s squad to show off their muscle. Four pitches into the game, Brenna Brown homered for the Kingsmen. Brown also hit a solo homer in the fifth inning. In between, she had an RBI single in the third.
“That’s what she does,” Zachary said about Brown’s hitting. “That’s why we moved her from the three spot to the lead-off spot. She gets the job done. She sets the tone and pace for us every time we play. For her to do that tonight let (starting pitcher Mackenzie Griman) Mac settle in and go out with a little bit more confidence and kind of wheel and deal out there.”
Penn’s most impressive display of power came in a five-run third inning when a steady rain began to fall. In that inning, the Kingsmen got consecutive homers from Addyson Kois, Ryleigh Langwell and Tori Budzinski. The homer from Kois was a two-run shot.
“I’ve been saying this the past couple weeks,” Zachary said. “It’s about being unselfish at the plate and being disciplined. Our kids are looking for particular pitches. They’re not just up there swinging for a home run. That’s not what we want to do. We want to move runners and get RBIs. If we happen (to homer) it’s an added bonus.”
Tuesday’s outcome was much different from the one that took place between Penn and Northridge during the regular season. On April 8, Penn won 3-0 over Northridge.
“(Penn) hit the heck out of the ball,” said Raiders coach Ray Caples, whose team finishes at 22-7. “We switched to three different pitchers. We tried a change of pace and a lot of different things and they just continued to hit the heck out of the ball. I lost count on how many home runs they hit. You can’t defend the long ball.”
A six-run fifth gave Penn a 15-1 lead. The highlight of that inning was Maddie Calvin’s three-run double.
Budzinski finished with three hits and three RBIs.
With a big lead, Griman did her job by throwing strikes. She allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one.
“The great thing about Mackenzie is that she has experience,” Zachary said. “She’s a senior leader and a flat-out competitor. Even giving up a hit makes her mad. Honestly, she battled a little bit with the weather today. I didn’t think she was as sharp as she was a couple days ago. To come out today and have that success is pretty exciting.”
Northridge was led offensively by Ashley Beckler, who collected two singles.
The Raiders coaching staff talk to their team for several minutes after the game and had a message for them.
“We just expressed to them how much we loved them and how much the season meant to us as coaches,” Caples said. “We just loved the heart that they showed this year and their attitude.”
PENN 15, NORTHRIDGE 1
Penn 115 26 — 15 15 0
Northridge 000 10 — 1 5 3
Mackenzie Griman (W, 6 K’s); Jenifer Robinson (L), Makena Knepp (3), Abby Hostetler (3).
Penn: Hits - Brenna Brown 4, Tori Budzinski 3, Maddie Calvin 2, Addyson Kois 2, Ryleigh Langwell 2. HR - Brown 2, Kois, Langwell, Budzinski. 2B - Langwell, Calvin. RBI - Brown 4, Calvin 4, Budzinski 3, Kois 2. Runs - Langwell 3, Budzinski 3, Brown 2, Delayne Sanchez 2, Kois 2.
Northridge: Hits - Ashley Beckler 2.
Records: Penn 23-6, Northridge 22-7.