SHAWNEE — Dale coach Andy Powell never even considered removing freshman pitcher Erin Harris on Saturday.
Clinging to a 3-1 lead in the seventh, Harris was struggling with her nerves and walked the first two batters of the inning. Powell's faith in his pitcher, though, was rewarded.
Harris worked her way through the inning, striking out Hailey Wilson to give No. 1 Dale its first state championship since 2003 with a 3-2 victory against No. 2 Savanna at The Ball Fields at Firelake in Shawnee.
“They were off the charts that last inning,” Harris said about her nerves. “I knew I was at the bottom of the lineup and I was just trying to give them strikes.”
Dale finishes the season with a near-perfect record at 40-1, completing the season with four freshmen starting.
“We thought this was going to happen, but you just never know,” Powell said.
And the freshmen certainly got it done Saturday against Savanna ace and Kansas commitment Bryn Houlton.
Not only was Harris dominant, freshman Lacey Hood delivered the big blow with a two-run home run on an 0-2 count in the third to put the Pirates up 3-0.
“She was big and tall, she was like 6-2,” Hood said. “It was difficult because she was intimidating.
“I just knew this pitcher was throwing outside and I was just really hoping to get a base hit when I got down 0-2.”
It was the second big homer for Hood in two days. She hit a three-run homer on Friday in the Pirates' 6-3 win against Colbert.
Once Dale had that lead, Harris took over and outdueled Houlton.
Harris allowed just one hit the rest of the way and stranded two runners. Only one of the two runs she allowed was earned, too.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Powell said. “We knew there wasn't going to very many runs scored today with those girls on the hill.”
Class A: Davenport 6, Healdton 5
Davenport senior Amanda Peterson called the coaches' rankings overrated.
Fourteenth-ranked Davenport held off a furious charge from No. 5 Healdton to pull a major upset and win its second straight Class A championship.
“Some of the top-ten teams didn't rank us all year and we didn't get the respect that we deserved,” said Peterson, the lone senior on the team.