by Beau Wicker
Pioneer softball coach John Bingaman knew runs would be tough to come by against defending Class A state champion Lakewood Park Christian and junior ace pitcher Mikeila Boroff.
So the gameplan going in to Monday’s semistate game was to have senior ace Betsy Bingaman shut down the potent LPC attack and hope to push across one or two runs.
Betsy Bingaman did shut down LPC for the most part, but Pioneer never did push across a run. Meanwhile, LPC scored three runs after a pair of controversial calls en route to a 3-0 win in a semifinal game at the Clinton Prairie Semistate.
The No. 5-ranked Pioneer Panthers (24-7) have to settle for three straight semistate appearances. The No. 1 LPC Panthers improved to 27-2 with the win.
Boroff held Pioneer to no runs on five hits and no walks, striking out nine.
Pioneer had some chances but couldn’t push across a run. Jessica Price led off the third inning with a base hit but the Panthers couldn’t move her any further. Lindsey Miller led off the fourth with a base hit and Katie Bingaman followed with a one-out single, but Miller was later left stranded at third. Miller nearly went yard with one out in the sixth but had to settle for a double after the ball crashed off the bottom of the fence in left at the 200-feet sign. She was left stranded at second. Jennifer Hughes had a one-out infield single in the seventh but was left stranded at first.
Pioneer kept the strikeouts down to nine against Boroff but John Bingaman was hoping for better.
“We were hoping to keep it under seven, seven or lower,” he said. “But when we needed to get a big hit, we couldn’t do it.”
As far as the controversial calls go, John Bingaman thought that both calls were missed and LPC coach David Carnahan thought that both were the correct calls.
John Bingaman said the umpires were well qualified and good umpires, he just disagreed with a couple calls.
“They’re semistate umpires. These are the best guys we’ve got,” he said. “They’re bang-bang calls, so one side’s going to be happy and one side’s going to be dissatisfied.
“You’ve got to make your own breaks sometimes.”
The first controversial call came in the fourth inning. LPC had runners on first and second with one out when Brittan Carnahan lifted a fly ball to deep center. Kayte Miller got turned around on the ball but made the catch falling down. There appeared to be confusion whether or not Miller caught the ball. The umpires ruled that she did and that the base runner Brooke Herendeen tagged and scored all the way from second.
Pioneer appealed at second but to no avail. It would have been the third out of the inning. Suzanne Grimm followed with an RBI single later in the inning to make it 2-0.
“I wish I could see the ball out in center. I’ve got no better angle than he had,” John Bingaman said. “He called her out, and he said she tagged up from second. We didn’t think so. What cued us off was the girl that scored said ‘I thought she dropped it.’ So when you hear that, it’s what do you do.
“But still, you’ve got to score. We got five hits on the game. We still had a hard time staying off the high stuff, and we worked on that a lot. We put the ball in play better, but it still seemed like we got a lot of popups and didn’t hit anything real solid.”
David Carnahan had a different view of the play.
“The umpire made the call and I think that she stayed there. I reminded her to stay there if we get a deep hit fly ball. It was a good head’s up play there to score on that deep fly ball,” he said.
The second controversial call came in the seventh inning. Jamie Budreau led off the inning with a routine popup that was dropped in the infield. She was on third with two outs when leadoff hitter Hannah Priskorn was called safe after a grounder to short for an RBI hit to make it 3-0.
“The play at first, she was out,” John Bingaman said. “Once again it’s a bang-bang call.
“You’ve got that lefty slapper. I can’t believe how fast she was. She was flying down the line. I thought she was out by a step, but again it really doesn’t matter what I think.”
“I thought she was safe,” David Carnahan countered. “I thought she was safe once before that on a close call, too. Those are bang-bang calls.”
The LPC coach credited Pioneer for playing his squad so closely.
“They’ve had a great season, had a great pitcher. She’s had a great career. He’s a great coach,” he said. “She did enough to keep us off balance to keep it a very tight game.
“They had a great season. I know they want to win it and they want to be there and they’ve worked hard to do that. When you do that and you’re laying it all out there with your heart, there’s a lot of emotion that goes through you.”
Betsy Bingaman allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk, striking out four.
But John Bingaman would argue the score should have been 0-0 after seven innings.
LPC, which already had qualified to move up to Class 2A next season due to the IHSAA’s new success factor, defeated No. 7 Frontier 5-0 Monday night to win its third straight semistate title.