Wheatfield off to state for first time

PROVIDED

The Wheatfield Junior Softball All-Stars team celebrates winning the District 2 title that earned them entry into the Indiana State Softball Tournament for the first-time ever. They are (front, L to R) manager Amanda Chmielewski, head coach Dan Chmielewski, and assistant coaches Chris Scheiber and Doug Smith; (back row, L to R) players Jenna Fitzpatrick, Kayla Swisher, Karissa Wilkens, Sam Scheiber, Jenna Smith, Kendall Hartsfield, Carly Stowers, Phylissa Dowell, Shelby Whitler, Morgan Smith and Alaina Carter.

DeMOTTE– For the first time ever in the history of the program, a Wheatfield Little League team has earned the right to represent Indiana Little League District 2 in the State Tournament.

The Junior Girls All-Star Softball team swept DeMotte for the title in the best two-out-of-three format tournament to advance last week. District 2 features teams form a geographic area that ranges from DeMotte and Wheatfield north to Whiting on the shores of Lake Michigan.

The team featured an experienced group of girls with six of the 11 all-stars playing in their last year at this level. In a rivalry that often features some of the best players in the district, as evidenced by the success of the Kankakee Valley High School softball program where many of these players end up, the tourney has frequently featured the DeMotte team. Not this year, however, as the cadre of experienced girls seized the opportunity to advance. They will next play in the State Tournament at Zionsville on Saturday, July 14 at 1:30 p.m.

“Heading into the 2018 season the Junior softball team had big goals for the year,” said Wheatfield assistant coach Doug Smith.

The wins over DeMotte featured two strong pitching performances by Karissa Wilkens, who threw a two-hitter and a no-hitter in the games. In game one, Wilkens recorded five strikeouts while giving up just one run and three walks. Game two had Wilkens hurling an even more impressive scoreless and hitless outing with nine K’s and three walks.

It wasn’t all Wilkens, however, as the Wheatfield offense was also on fire. In game one, Wheatfield would score 16 runs to roll over DeMotte 16-1. Jenna Smith, Kayla Swisher, Sam Scheiber, and Karissa Wilkens all were 2 for 2 at the plate and Shelby Whitler and Kendall Hartsfield went 2 for 3.

In the second and final game, Wheatfield notched 11 runs, sparked by Shelby Whitler, who was 3 for 4 at the plate. Morgan Smith, Phylissa Dowell, Swisher, Hartsfield, and Jenna Smith were all 1 for 2 in the five-inning game.

Despite the lop-sided scores, Smith was quick to give credit to the DeMotte squad for their efforts.

“Although the scoreboard doesn’t reflect it, both games were hard-fought.” said Smith. “The younger DeMotte team faced an uphill battle but refused to quit.”