Bremen softball is State bound

Erin Coffel watches yet another homer this one in semi-state finals action at Lakeville
By: 
Ron Haramia
Sports Writer

Bremen’s softball team left no doubt they are one of the top teams in the state Saturday.
And now the top-ranked Lady Lions will get the chance to see if they are THE best team after qualifying for the state finals with a 7-0 victory over the fifth-ranked Tipton Blue Devils in the Class 2A semistate championship game.
With standout performances in all facets of the game – hitting, pitching and defense – Bremen was clearly the better team on the Newton Park field and will now play Speedway for the state championship on Saturday, June 9, at Bittinger Stadium on the campus of Purdue University.
The batting heroes were Erin Coffel (HR, 2B, three hits, four runs), who finished a triple short of the cycle, Bailey Fritter (three hits, three RBIs), and Caitlin Traxler, Kaelyn Shively, and McKenna Myers, all with two hits apiece.
Fritter and Shively each had RBIs to get things going in the first inning. Fritter’s single knocked in Coffel and Shively beat out an infield hit to score a hustling Traxler for an early 2-0 lead before Tipton batted for the first time.
Coffel led off the third inning with a solo homer – her 22nd of the season – and later scored on Fritter’s infield hit in the fifth to make it 4-0.
The exclamation point occurred in the seventh when nine batters came to the plate and three scored. After a single and stolen base by Rylee Hershberger, Coffel was intentionally walked. Traxler had an RBI single to plate Hershberger, then Sara Knepper walked to load the bases. After a meeting on the mound by the Blue Devils, Fritter rapped her third RBI single of the game, this time scoring Coffel before Traxler was thrown out on a close play at the plate. After a Shively single, McKenna Myers’ base hit sent Knepper in to round out the scoring.
“You can tell why (Coffel) is a Division I recruit,” said Bremen head coach Mike Huppert, who saw his sophomore shortstop finish 5-for-7 with three HRs, six RBIs, eight runs scored and reached base all eight times she came to the plate in the two semistate games. “She hits the ball where she needs to – outside pitches, inside pitches. It’s amazing.
“Bailey, that’s a senior stepping up right there. She was so relaxed. We have bases loaded and after a huddle the first pitch is usually right down the middle. I said, ‘If you like it, go get it’ and she laces it up the middle. Great hit.”
“I just told myself to relax,” Fritter added. “That’s what you’ve got to do. I had a job and hopefully I succeeded. Getting the lead helps calm the nerves down. Good nerves. Always good nerves.”
Shively’s pitching was outstanding once again. The junior pitched a three-hitter, struck out four, and walked only one.
“I was thankful she only pitched four innings (in the morning game),” admitted Huppert. “She was a little bit nervous because her warm-up wasn’t as good as she’s used to, but after she settled in and had that three-pitch inning in the sixth … you can’t draw it up any better than that.”
The Lady Lions’ defense was stellar behind Shively and she will be the first to tell you that.
“I trust them to the end and we are going to the end,” said the right-handed hurler. “The defense knows what they are doing. Whatever they do is going to be the right decision. It makes pitching so much easier.”
The defensive highlights included: centerfielder Hershberger covering a lot of ground to make a running catch – in left field – on the first Tipton batter of the game; a tipped grounder off Shively’s glove bouncing to Coffel, who cut down a Tipton runner at the plate in the third; and Bremen turning a beautiful 6-4-3 DP in the fourth inning.
“The double play is a routine play for us,” added Shively.
“The double play was huge,” agreed Huppert. “(On the tipped ball) the idea there was their leadoff batter is a slap hitter with 30-some stolen bases. Our best play may be at home. I told our catcher (Carly Snyder) to be ready and she was.”
“We’ve been working on double plays for I don’t know how long,” said Coffel. “We finally got the perfect DP. That brought a lot of hype. (The play at home) was the right play at the right time. Luckily the ball came right to me and I knew I had to make a good throw. It was lucky, but it worked.”
•BREMEN 7, TIPTON 0
At Lakeville (Newton Park)
Class 2A Semistate Championship
Bremen 201 010 3 – 7 13 0
Tipton 000 000 0 – 0 3 1
Kaelyn Shively and Carly Snyder; Claire Norred and Mackenzie Stillson.
2B – Erin Coffel (B)
HR – Coffel (B)
Records: Bremen 26-3, Tipton 20-5 (final)

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