Kokomo's softball team ventured to Lafayette on Saturday to join the final four of the North Central Conference tournament and came home as champions.
The Wildkats, the No. 2 seed from the West Division, beat Anderson 2-0 in the semifinal round and beat McCutcheon 5-2 in the championship. It was Kokomo's third NCC tourney title in the five years since the league went to this format.
"We were very excited," Kokomo coach Mike Susong said. "We've really grown as a team as the year's gone on. The girls have really come together, and they're playing together. They pick up each other. We've won 10 games in a row now and we're playing really well as a team."
Kat pitcher Lauryn Hicks threw a complete-game two-hitter against East No. 1 seed Anderson. She struck out 14 and dealt no walks. Taylor Simmons got the Kats on the board with a solo homer in the top of the second inning. Hicks tripled in the fourth, then scored on Simmons' sac fly.
McCutcheon, the No. 3 seed from the West, took out overall No. 1 seed Harrison in the semifinals to book a date with Kokomo in the final.
Karley Trine led the Kats' offense in the final, going 3 for 3 with a double and two RBIs. Hicks was 2 for 4 with two doubles and two runs scored. Sarah Stonebraker plated a run with a squeeze bunt in the fifth. Hicks threw all seven innings with two earned runs, six hits, no walks and nine strikeouts.
"We're winning close games," Susong said. "That goes to our girls staying together and working together to achieve a goal. I think when you're playing for each other as opposed to playing for yourself, you're obviously going to accomplish more."
TAYLOR SWEEPS DH
Taylor swept Wabash in a doubleheader at Wabash. The Titans took a 3-1 win in the opener and a 12-6 win in the second game.
Coach Robert McGuire said the Titans hit the ball well and played solid defense.
"Ruby Terrell had a home run and all the [players] played hard and hit the ball very well and [we had] solid pitching from Madelyn Uncapher and Brooklyyn Meador. We are starting to put it together at the right time," he said.
WESTERN WINS HC
Western endured challenging conditions to post a score of 346 and win the 10-team Hoosier Conference meet at Bear Slide G.C. Twin Lakes was second (355), Tipton third (356), LCC fourth (367), Cass fifth (375), West Lafayette sixth (376), Rensselaer seventh (377), Hamilton Heights eighth (388), Benton Central ninth (412) and Northwestern 10th (444).
Western's Kyle Sanders was the medalist, carding a 78. Levi Purtee added an 85, Trevor White 89 and Avery Hayes 94. Sanders, Purtee and White all made the 12-player all-conference team.
"Tipton is a very good team and we hadn't beat them all year," Western coach Steve Hoppes said. "Everybody had to play the same conditions and my kids seemed like they said, 'Hey, we're going to have to bear through it.'
"That's how we won it to be honest with you. Our attitude was everybody has to play in the same conditions. It wasn't good conditions. It was windy, it was wet and it was cold."
Sanders' medalist 78 was a product of him accepting what was possible Saturday on the par-71 course.
"Kyle wins the whole thing with a 78 and has zero birdies," Hoppes said. "He played par-bogey golf. You weren't going to get a lot of birdies [Saturday]. You had to keep away from the big, big holes, and that's what our kids did, kept away from big scores."
It was Western's first conference title since joining the HC in 2015-16.
Noah Wolfe led Tipton with an 85, Gavin Hare shot 88, Nate Slack 92 and Ethan Clouser 93.
Ben Carpenter led Cass with an 88, Mason Hahn shot 94, Conrad Emmons 96 and Andy Conwell 97.
Bodey Henry shot 102 to lead Northwestern.
EASTERN WINS HHC
Eastern won the Hoosier Heartland Conference tournament at Deer Track G.C. in Frankfort. The Comets posted a score of 359 to beat runner-up Rossville by three shots.
The Comets used good balance to take their second straight HHC title. Mason France and Cody Shrader shot 88s, Isaac Maurer had a 90 and Austin Day had a 93. France, Shrader and Maurer made the all-conference team.
"It was cold, it was windy and every golf course in the state is wet and plays long, and Deer Track is a tough track to play. The kids had to grind it out and they did," Eastern coach Brad Wilson said. "Mason and Cody didn't play well on the front, but they played really well on the back. Issac played really well on the front and not so well on back. It was just one of those grind-it-out days. We were lucky enough to edge Rossville by three shots.
"I couldn't be any prouder of these kids for gutting it out."
Clinton Prairie (404), Carroll (409), Clinton Central (434), Delphi (440), Taylor (462) and Sheridan (521) rounded out the team standings. Prairie's Grant McGraw was medalist with a 7-over 79.
Owen Shimer (109), Chase Beck (110), Tyler Rayls (119) and Cam Smallwood (124) had Taylor's top four scores.
The Titans improved from a nine-hole score of 251 at Deer Track on Monday.
"All five of the Titans managed to improve on their rounds from Monday and I can't say how proud I am of them," coach Justin Palmer said.
PERU WINS TRC
No. 17-ranked Peru posted a score of 329 to win the Three Rivers Conference tournament at Rozella Ford G.C. in Warsaw. Maconaquah was runner-up with 344.
Kash Bellar led the Bengal Tigers with a 78. Corbin Robison followed with an 81, Andrew Overton had an 83 and Jake Van Baalen had an 87 to round out the team score.
Hayden Williamson led the Braves with an 83. Nolyn Tubb (86), Mason Taylor (87) and Drake Guyer (88) followed for the Braves.
Peru's Bellar, Robison and Overton and Mac's Williamson made the all-conference team.
NW 5, SOUTHWOOD 0
Northwestern breezed past visiting Southwood to cap its fourth straight undefeated regular season.
No. 1 singles player Madison Layden, the No. 1 doubles team of Kendall Bostic and Jessie Jones and the No. 2 doubles team of Katie Neher and Olivia Hodson all posted 6-0, 6-0 victories.
No. 2 singles player Allison Miller was a 6-3, 6-0 winner and No. 3 singles player Berklyn Root was a 6-2, 6-0 winner.
"This was our fifth match in six days and we started a little slow at a few spots," coach Kathie Layden said. "Berklyn Root stepping in for [normal No. 3 singles player] Klair Merrell this match was able to get her first varsity win."
Kathie Layden noted Miller has been a fixture at No. 2 singles during the Tigers' run of undefeated regular seasons.
"Not sure many athletes can say they were even on one undefeated team, let alone four in a row," she said.
EASTERN WINS INVITE
Eastern beat Lapel 5-0 in the opening round and beat New Castle 4-1 in the championship in Lapel's invitational.
In the opener, Casey Clark was a 6-1, 6-3 winner at No. 1 singles, Callie Sargent pitched a 6-0, 6-0 shutout at No. 2 singles, Ella Flanary was a 6-4, 7-5 winner at No. 3 singles, Morgan White and Kaylee Weeks took a 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 1 doubles and Kristina Standish and Addison Ream took a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 2 doubles.
In the championship, Clark (6-1, 6-0) and Sargent (6-1, 6-1) breezed to victories at Nos. 1 and 2 singles. Sam Monize was a 6-4, 6-3 winner at No. 3 singles and Standish and Ream took a 7-5, 6-1 win at No. 2 doubles.
"It's nice to win that invite," coach Pat Rice said. "Lapel is a very strong team so that was a really good win. You could tell they had our full attention going into that match as we just played a really good match. I was happy up and down the lineup with that one.
"The New Castle win, we had a little bit of a letdown play-wise I think, but we were still able to get the job done."
Eastern (17-1) visits Hamilton Heights on Monday to close the regular season.
KATS 3RD IN NCC
Kokomo finished third in the North Central Conference after splitting a pair of games Saturday.
In the semifinal round, McCutcheon handled Kokomo 11-1 in five innings. Cory Wells had the Wildkats' lone hit and also drove in their run. Tre Hizer took the loss.
The Kats bounced back to beat Richmond 2-0 in the third-place game. Charez Butcher and Mason Keller combined on a three-hit shutout with Butcher earning the win and Keller picking up the save. Butcher pitched four innings, allowed one hit, struck out six and walked five. Keller pitched the final three innings and allowed two hits. He struck out one and walked none.
Payton McClain went 2 for 2 and Butcher had the Kats' only other hit. Butcher also drove in a run. The Kats scored both of their runs in the top of the first.
Eastern split a pair of games at the Argyll Classic, losing to the host squad in the opening round, then beating Tri-Central to finish the day.
Madison-Grant edged Eastern 7-6 in nine innings. The Argylls scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings, then won with a run in the bottom of the ninth.
Cameron Arcari led the Comets against MG, going 3 for 5 with a double, two RBIs and a run. Gabriel Franks was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, Levi Mavrick went 2 for 4 and Luke Monize was 2 for 5. Cameron Arcari took the loss.
In the TC game, the Trojans led 2-1 through five innings but Eastern (6-12) scored seven runs over the sixth and seventh to go up for good. TC scored a run in the bottom of the seventh but the rally fell well short as Eastern won 8-3.
Matt Arcari led the Comets' offense against TC. He was 2 for 3 with an RBI and three runs scored. Eli Elkins was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs. Both Arcaris, Owen Taylor and Andrew Hartman hit doubles. Taylor picked up the win, throwing six innings with six hits, two earned runs, a walk and eight strikeouts.
MAC WINS CLASSIC
Maconaquah beat Peru 5-3 in the championship game of the Miami County Classic at Peru. Carter Little put the Braves in front with a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth. Levi Richardson's sacrifice fly scored Little to make it 5-3.
In the semifinal round, Mac beat Oak Hill 7-2 and Peru beat North Miami 8-1. The latter game also counted as a Three Rivers Conference game.