SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Sure, the rainbow that appeared during Shawnee’s 4-3 softball win over Wapakoneta on Friday was just water and refracted light, not magic, but there was still a bit of a magical feeling for the Indians after that victory clinched a share of the Western Buckeye League championship.
Shawnee’s championship, which it shared with Bath, is only the third WBL softball title for the school and its first in a decade.
Bath had already cliched a share of the championship with an 8-1 record in WBL games. Shawnee and Wapakoneta both came into Friday’s game with 7-1 records, so whoever won was going to be a co-champion.
“It’s been 10 years since we won and to be the team that does it, that’s so big to us,” Shawnee senior outfielder Shalon McNeal said.
Shawnee scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the third inning to break up a scoreless game. Wapakoneta answered with three runs in the top of the fourth inning but Shawnee held on the rest of the way for the win.
The Indians’ rally started with a one-out walk to Kyra Vermillion. With two out, McNeal drew a walk and Carmie Winegardner reached base on an error to load the bases.
Kaylee Grant lined a single to centerfield to score pinch-runner Lynden Bassitt and McNeal. Then the next two hitters, Kayla Bishop and Allie Hutchins, hit line drive singles that each drove in a run.
Grant also was the winning pitcher for Shawnee. She struck out seven, walked one and only one of the three Wapakoneta runs were earned.
Shawnee coach Eric Truxal called the junior pitcher “one of the best players in the league, if not the best.”
“She came up, and like she has done all year, got the team going with that single for two RBIs. And then the next two hitters got singles and drove in runs,” he said.
Carlie Schroeder, Kylie Jeanneret and Allie Wilson, who went 4 for 4 on the day, all had run-scoring singles for Wapakoneta in the fourth inning. But the Redskins had only two baserunners and just one hit in the final three innings.
“We struggled a little offensively lately. We played a great team. It was two great teams, last game of the year fighting for a league title. We played them really hard and played them the best we could,” Wapakoneta coach Bill Sammons said.
Shawnee (15-8, 8-1 WBL) had struggles of its own early in the season when it lost seven of its first 11 games.
“We were 4-7 and it was a rough season. We were kind of wondering if we’d be a .500 team this season. We had a lot of things going on. We had girls that were hurt, girls that were out of position,” Truxal said.
“We had a team meeting and let them write down what was bothering them. We put them in a bucket and threw it away and since then we’re been 10 out of 11. Our one loss was to Bryan, who is undefeated. So, it was a big change.
“Shawnee hasn’t had a lot of championships or co-championships so this is big for them. It’s big for me, too. I’m just so daggone proud of them. We just never thought we’d have this opportunity,” he said.
When it mattered most, Shawnee took advantage of that opportunity. And then it celebrated.
“We’ve worked our heart out all year and just playing our hardest has paid off,” Hutchins said.
Bishop said, “I feel like I’m on Cloud 9, I don’t know how else to describe it.”