For West Valley Preps
Paradise Honors found out first hand Friday afternoon why Benson is considered one of the best teams in the 2A softball tournament.
“That is a good team there,” said Paradise coach Paul Hatcher. “They are coached well, run the bases well, you can’t get them fooled and they don’t make mistakes. They were just too good today.”
No. 2 seed Benson (24-7) defeated No. 7 Paradise Honors (19-5) 6-3 in a game that started a little sloppy but eventually was headlined by a stellar pitching performance by Katie Sherman.
The top of the first featured a pair of fielding errors that would lead to a run as well as an RBI from Panthers junior Christine McMullen.
“That is nothing new for us. We do that a lot. Top of the line up can do some damage early,” said Coach Hatcher.
The lead was short lived, however, as Hailey Post drove in a run with a triple and was later driven in by Abby Workman to tie the game at 2 to end the first.
The defenses settled down from there and neither team got anything going in the second. After Katie Hatcher led off the top of the third with a walk it was beginning to look like Benson would escape the inning but junior Alyssa Anderson managed to drive her home with two outs.
However, much like Paradise Honors’ first lead, this one was also short lived. Workman crushed a two-run home run in the bottom of the third that would prove to be the game winner and her second and third RBI of the game.
Sherman was in control for a vast majority of the game, striking out seven and keeping Paradise Honors off balance with a highly effective change-up.
“She was really good today,” said Coach Hatcher. “We haven’t seen a change-up that good all year and we have played against some good pitchers.”
Despite a leadoff double by sophomore Ashlyn Buntin to start the fifth, the Panthers couldn’t get anything else across.
“When you play a team like Benson you can’t afford to leave anyone on base, you need to punch them all in,” said Coach Hatcher.
Benson would add another run in the sixth but the damage was already done. Sherman and Workman proved to be too much for Paradise on this day but coach Hatcher was not disappointed in the slightest with his team’s effort.
Paradise Honors celebrated its second softball state tournament appearance last week with its first playoff win. And only two seniors will graduate from this team.
“Couldn’t be more proud of these girls. They never get down and always fight. It is a shame it ended but I just couldn’t be more proud,” Coach Hatcher said.