By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY —
In the past three years, the Jeff/GRC 13-14-year-old Softball All-Stars have had three opportunities to take home a District 5 Tournament championship.
During that three-year span when the All-Stars played in the 9-10 and 11-12 softball divisions, they reached a District 5 final in each of those three years. Each time, this group of girls fell short of a district title.
That all changed on Friday night at Grant Line Elementary School.
Jeff (3-0) pounded out 13 hits, eight of which were for extra bases, in its 17-2 victory over New Albany in five innings in the District 5 Tournament championship game.
Jeff advances to the Junior Softball State Tournament July 24-29 in South Bend.
Jeff coach Jason Schuur, who coached his players in the past three District 5 championship losses, was thrilled to see his girls finally get over the hump.
“The girls truly deserve this,” said Schuur, who mentioned that most of his players are 13-years-old and expected to be back on the squad next year. “They’ve had their hearts broken the last three years. I’m so happy for them that they finally have this. That’s all they wanted.”
Three Jeff players made significant contributions at the plate. Leadoff batter Juliette Schuur went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. The Jeff second baseman had two doubles and a triple.
Jeff’s Kaylee Strong, who batted behind Juliette Schuur in the No. 2 spot, also went 3-for-4. Strong had three RBIs, two runs scored and two doubles. Hailey Dorman, Jeff’s No. 9 batter, went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, three runs scored and an RBI.
“We’ve hit the ball real well,” Jason Schuur said. “Tonight, Dorman, Schuur and Strong hit the ball as good as they’ve hit it in districts. They were on fire tonight.”
Jeff’s Jennah Tincher, Cheyenne Worgull and Amy Steinmetz each scored twice. Tincher had a double and an RBI, while Worgull and Steinmetz each drove in a run. Teammate Kurin Worgull also had an RBI.
Jeff got a solid pitching performance from starting pitcher Camryn Teague. The right-hander threw a complete game, allowing two runs (none earned) on two hits. Teague struck out seven and walked four.
“Camryn has been on fire in all the games of districts,” Jason Schuur said. “She actually started off this game a little rougher than the prior ones. But after the second, she tightened up. She got a little loose in the fifth to close it out, but I think a lot of that was adrenaline and just the thought of bringing home the banner.”
Jeff pulled out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning. Juliette Schuur started the game with a double to left-center field. Following a Strong strikeout, Tincher smacked a double to deep left that banged off the fence to plate Juliette Schuur. Cheyenne Worgull then collected an RBI single to drive in Tincher.
New Albany (1-2) fought back to tie the contest at two in the top of the second. Makayala Luckhardt led off the inning by drawing a walk. After Alexis Kaufer struck out, Skilar Pratt drew the second walk of the inning.
With runners at first and third base, Lindsey Robb blooped a single into shallow left to knock in Luckhardt. Then on the same play, Pratt came home after a Jeff error.
The sequence ended when Robb got thrown out at third by Tincher, who was the Jeff catcher.
Jeff bounced back with two runs in the second and a whopping 10 runs in the third.
In the bottom of the third, Jeff sent 13 batters to the plate, collected five hits and took advantage of six New Albany errors.
“We had several hard line drives, and then you have the errors and it‘s tough to recover from things like that,” Jason Schuur said.
Steinmetz and Strong each delivered RBI singles in the third. New Albany coach Don Kaufer said Jeff’s prowess with the sticks were too much for his team to handle in the frame.
“We lost that one inning, and they got ahead of us on hitting the ball,” he said. “We weren’t hitting like we should’ve been tonight. We let them get ahead of us and we couldn’t get back into the game.
“We’ve got some good ballplayers in New Albany and everybody did wonderful. We had a wonderful season with them. They were just the better ball team tonight.”
Robb and Amy Adamson each had singles for New Albany.
DISTRICT 5 TOURNAMENT
JEFF/GRC 17, NEW ALBANY 2
New Albany 020 00— 2 2 8
Jeff/GRC 22(10) 3x—17 13 3
W — Camryn Teague. L — Taylor Luckhardt. 2B — Juliette Schuur 2 (J), Kaylee Strong 2 (J), Hailey Dorman 2 (J), Jennah Tincher (J). 3B — Schuur (J).
Records — Jeff/GRC 3-0, New Albany 1-2.