Bluejackets survive seventh inning surge from North Knox to advance to sectional championship

By Noah Dalton

VINCENNES – Mitchell has advanced to the 2A Sectional 47 Championship game after beating North Knox 10-8 in a tense second-round matchup on Tuesday.

The Bluejackets found themselves in a familiar position against the Warriors. Mirroring last year’s sectional matchup, they wound up against North Knox in the second round, ultimately giving up eight runs, the same amount they allowed last season, in a losing effort.

Though there were some key similarities between the two games, there are also some stark differences, namely this Mitchell roster, which graduated seven players after last season.

Perhaps the biggest difference though was the team’s performance at the plate.

Oddly enough, in both games, the Bluejackets racked up nine hits, though this time around their appearances at the plate proved much more fruitful, with Mitchell knocking home eight runs this time around, compared to four last year.

Page Mullis swings at a pitch during an at-bat against North Knox

“We hit the ball well, and when it’s one hit, two hits, and three hits, it’s a domino effect, and that’s exactly what happened with that,” Mitchell head coach Christa Mullis said.

The two sides entered the night in nearly opposite positions in the season, with North Knox winning their last five and Mitchell having lost their last five.

Mullis said this win couldn’t have come at a better time for her young team, who had one of their better outings of the season when it mattered most.

“Perfect timing is what that felt like. I feel like today we were firing on all cylinders. We’ve been kind of flat these past few games. Today, it was a little bit of energy that we needed,” she said.

“They fought till the very end, which is what I’ve been commenting on this team this whole season. And it was true tonight. I mean, they didn’t give up. Usually, when they start hitting a little bit, we start buckling a little bit because we are a little experienced, but tonight that didn’t happen. They just got to work.”

Their biggest showing of the night came in the third inning, where they put up five runs after they began the frame trailing 1-0, after a Warriors’ runner scored from third on a passed ball in the first inning.

After starting the inning with two straight base hits from Mati Rosenberger and Alyssa Young, the Bluejackets’ jumped ahead thanks to a two-run double from catcher Davaney Roop.

Davaney Roop hits a double against North Knox to drive in two runs

They loaded the bases in the next two at-bats, eventually scoring two on a passed ball. Their final run of the inning came on a sacrifice bunt from Karsyn Coleman, scoring Emma Chastain from third and giving Mitchell a 5-1 advantage.

North Knox began to close the gap in the next few innings, bringing home a run in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly from Mattilynn Ashley, and adding two more in the fourth with two runners crossing home plate from second and third base via another passed ball.

Mitchell’s bats continued to find timely hits to extend their lead further as the game went on.

The Bluejackets started the top of the fifth by putting two runners on base, with swings from Natalee Nissley (single) and Coleman (sacrifice fly) bringing them home to add two more.

Mitchell tacked on three more in the sixth, after loading the bases for Nissley, who singled to score a runner from third and keep a runner at each base for the next hitter up, Chastain, who batted home two with a short fly ball.

Gabriella Roush catches a fly ball against North Knox

The Warriors began the bottom of the seventh trailing by six runs, 10-4, but managed to claw their way back into the game.

They loaded the bags after their first three at-bats, with Coleman walking two, as well as a single from Ally Crist. This set up Javan Miller, who batted home two runs on a base hit to right field.

With runners then at second and third, North Knox scored two more in the next at-bat, a single from Graci Leroy. Though she was thrown out attempting to reach second later in the play, the damage had already been done, as the Warriors had brought it within two, with just one out recorded.

With the bases cleared out, the Bluejackets were able to settle down, picking up a ground out in the next at-bat to keep another runner off base and bring in their second out.

They secured their victory and their spot in the championship game in the next at-bat, with a three-pitch strikeout from Coleman, her 12th of the night.

Karsyn Coleman throws a pitch against North Knox

Mullis noted the Warriors’ emphasis on putting runners on base, which proved effective in their late-game comeback. Regardless, she commended her team’s poise in the face of danger, as they were able to close out the win after a tumultuous start to the final frame.

“You panic for a minute, but no, really, small ball is an art and they used that a little bit against us tonight,” said Mullis. “And it worked really well for them. In that situation, we walked two there. So again, kind of getting into that mental side of the game just like small balling. But, our pitcher didn’t get too rattled really. We went out and kind of just let her breathe for a minute and she said ‘I’m good’, and then she turned around and got her outs.”

Coleman threw a complete game for Mitchell, finishing the night with 135 pitches thrown against 35 hitters, with five earned runs allowed.

“She was on tonight really well,” Mullis said about Coleman’s night. “I think she performed excellent for us. She kept them off balance in her speed and location. She did a great job tonight.”

They’ll face the defending sectional champs, Sullivan (24-4) on Wednesday night.

Mullis said their mentality entering the postseason has been to be “all in”, which they’ll carry into that matchup.

“The mentality that we’re taking on right now and we’ve been taking on for a little is all in. We’re just gonna bring everything we’ve got and leave it all on the field,” she said.