New Palestine High School Softball (Varsity)

Softball slams way to regional title

By Andrew Smith | May 28, 2024 11:12 PM


Allie Blum's two homers got the Dragons softball team started Tuesday in the regional at Cathedral. Paige Ernstes' grand slam finished it. In-between, the fourth-ranked Dragons got production from throughout the lineup in a 12-1 five-inning victory over No. 3 Cathedral. The Dragons (23-4) move on to face Avon in Saturday's 12:30 p.m. semistate game at Bedford North Lawrence. The winner will face either No. 1 Castle or No. 5 Center Grove in the 7 p.m. championship game. The Dragons scored in every inning. Allie Blum's 18th homer of the season started things off. Cathedral responded with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the first, but that was all the offense the Irish would muster against Dragons hurler Courtney Study, who pitched a complete game. She allowed three hits, no earned runs and struck out two. In the second inning, Katie Hirschy drew a leadoff walk. She moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. With two outs, Payton Dye laced a single to left to plate Hirschy and put the Dragons on top 2-1. They'd continue to extend the lead from there. In the third, Blum came up again and sliced a hard smash down the rightfield line. The Cathedral rightfielder dove for the ball but was unable to reel it in;. It bounded toward the corner while Blum raced around the bases for an inside-the-park homer. The Dragons pushed the lead to 6-1 in the fourth, plating three runs on four hits. Maddie Engle drew a walk to lead off the inning and scored from first when Reese Rosenbaum laced a double to the left-centerfield gap. Ella Holman followed with another line-drive double to left-center to plate Rosenbaum. Jersi Gross extended the inning with an infield hit. With runners on first and second, the Irish elected to intentionally walk Blum, taking their chances with Ernstes. She made them pay by lacing a single to left to plate Holman. Gross was thrown out at the plate trying to score a second run on a close play, but the Dragons' lead was 6-1. Cathedral had its best chance in the next inning, putting runners on the corners with two outs, but Study recorded a strikeout to end the threat. The Dragons then pounced in the fifth. With two outs and Engle - who reached on an error - on base, the Dragons went to work. Dye drew a four-pitch walk. Holman punched a single through the hole on the right side of the infield to plate the first run. Gross followed with an RBI single to left to extend the lead to 8-1. Again, with runners on first and second, the Irish intentionally walked Blum to load the bases. That set the stage for Ernstes. After fouling off two pitches, she got a 2-2 pitch to her liking and hammered it well over the leftfield fence for a grand slam, giving the Dragons a 12-1 lead and six runs with two outs in the frame. Study retired the Irish in order on two flyouts to Holman in left and a poput to Blum at short to touch off the celebration. The Dragons won the 11th regional title in school history and their first since 2019. The Dragons tallied 11 hits. Ernstes went 2-for-4 with a grand slam and five RBI. Blum was 2-for-2 with two homers - one over the fence, one inside the park - and three runs scored. She extended her state lead in homers to 19. Gross was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Holman was 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and two RBI. Sydney Oliver was 1-for-4. Rosenbaum was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Dye was 1-for-2 with an RBI.