Lady Stars earn share of conference title

May 15—NEW MARKET — The Western Boone softball program has had plenty of success during head coach Mike Vanderpool's tenure, winning four sectional titles and two regional titles.

But they had never won a piece of the Sagamore Conference title — until Wednesday night.

Western Boone topped Southmont 18-1, finishing conference play 13-1 and earning a share of the conference title with Tri-West.

"I am so proud of them," Vanderpool said. "Winning the title in our conference is tough. I have coached here for 12 years, and this is the first time we have won it.

"We have a tough conference in softball, and I am so proud of these girls for winning this. They deserve it."

It is the first conference title since 2007 for the Stars.

After splitting with Tri-West in a double-header on April 20, the Stars knew they controlled their own destiny if they wanted to earn a share of the title.

They won two close games with Danville, including an epic seven-run comeback in the game two, then won four games by run-rule over Crawfordsville and Frankfort.

The Stars also had to battle against Southmont in the first game, being scoreless for a long time before coming away with a 5-3 win.

Vanderpool said it made it even more special for the way the girls had to stay focused every game.

"We had close games against Danville and Tri-West, and even Monday we had a close one too," Vanderpool said. "I was a little nervous heading into today, you don't want to get this close and let it slip away, but I knew we could do if we played the way we are capable."

Early on, some of those nerves showed as the Stars and Mounties were scoreless through two innings. But the Stars scored 10 times in the third inning, then added three in the fourth and five in the fifth.

Ally Lewis was 2-for-5 with five RBIs and a run scored, with Mickayla Naanos going 2-for-4 with three runs scored and Kenzlei Mathews going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Dottie Wilson and Kirstin McCormick also went 2-for-3 with three runs scored apiece.

"They had slower pitching, and we didn't adjust that well in the first game," Vanderpool said. "After the first couple of innings today, we were letting the ball get deeper and we started hitting line drives."

The Stars got their second-straight solid pitching performance.

After Gabby Lewis struck out 15 in game one, Ally Lewis struck out nine in five innings Wednesday, allowing just one run on three hits.

"It's been great having two strong pitchers like that," Vanderpool said. "Gabby was awesome on Monday, not allowing any earned runs, and Ally was lights out tonight."

Western Boone now gets ready for sectional play, where they will face the winner of Lebanon and Monrovia at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday evening at Lebanon.

"We will crank the pitching machine up and get used to the faster pitching we will see in the sectional," Vanderpool said. "We just want to stay relaxed. We know what we can do and how we can play, we just need to stay relaxed and have fun."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.