Cassie Blankenship continues to be Exhibit A for gutsiness.
The Westside junior pitcher went all 14 inning as the Lady Renegades beat Wyoming East, 1-0 and 4-3, to win the Region 3, Section 2 championship at New Richmond on Monday night.
After throwing a shut out in the first game, Blankenship started to experience back problesm in the second contest.
“I was going to put another pitcher in, but she said ‘Coach, I want to stay in’”, said WHS coach Sarah Patrick.
“Pitching was the difference in the game,” stated East coach Robert “Doc” Warner. “(Blankenship) gutted it out.”
Both teams had scoring chances in the first game but not many of them.
East loaded the bases with one out in the first, and Blankenship worked her way out of it.
The Renegades had runners on second and third in the third, but East pitcher Emily Day got Aly Fleenor to ground out.
WHS (15-2) broke throught with two out and nobody on base.
Leah Pack punched a single to left. Stephanie Brown then singled to left, and the ball got past the East outfield and rolled to the fence.
That allowed the courtesy runner to come home and gave Westside all the runs it would need.
“The first game was all about defense by both teams,” Patrick commented.
Blankenship retired East in order to seal the win.
“I told the girls that just because we won the first game, it wasn’t over,” Patrick stated. “I said they needed to finish the job and we wouldn’t come back on Tuesday.”
The second game was scoreless until the Renegades broke through.
Again, it all happened with two outs. Pack walked, and Brown singled to center. A throwing error on an Alexis Walls grounder allowed two runs to come in.
“Stephanie really had some big hits for us tonight,” Patrick stated.
Blankenship’s RBI single to left made it 3-0.
Westside added a run in the fifth.
East ended an 11-inning scoreless streak in the its half of the fifth.
Leah Bailey got on base to start the inning, and Samantha England singled.
Bre Pertee drove a 2-2 pitch to left to bring in one run.
Hailey Lowman blooped a single to shallow center to cut the lead to 4-2.
Morgan Adkins lined out hard to second to end the inning.
Adrienne Mullins hit a solo shot to left-center in the Warrior six to slice the margin to 4-3.
“I told the girls, we’re still ahead, we just need three outs,” said Patrick.
Pertee walked to start the East seventh, but she was thrown out trying to steal second.
“I was hoping they would make a mistake trying to throw her out,” Warner remarked.
Westside will be at home next week in the regional semifinals.
“I’m so proud of Cassie,” Patrick said. “This team gives 110 percent.”
She’s hoping this year’s club make it that one step farther to state.
“I think this is our year,” she commented.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.