ANGOLA – Olivia Dickerson has belted many a ball for the Bishop Dwenger softball team this spring, but one of her shortest hits on the season carried her team the farthest.
With the Saints trading zeroes with host Angola through the first five innings of Wednesday’s Class 3A Sectional final, her two-out bunt single ultimately plated senior Grace Renbarger for what proved the game-winning RBI in Dwenger’s 4-0 victory.
“I’m a power hitter that can bunt, and I love keeping the defense on their toes,” Dickerson said. “We love putting pressure on and attacking.”
The Saints (21-7) sent nine batters to the plate in that fateful sixth inning. Renbarger walked to lead off, stealing second before advancing to third on a grounder back to Hornet starting pitcher Janna Schwartzengraber.
Needing a spark and sensing the moment, Dwenger coach Beth Peters signaled for Dickerson, who has 17 extra-base hits among her 37 hits on the season, to bunt. She placed her attempt perfectly, forcing Schwartzengraber to field the ball.
When Schwartzengraber double-clutched before throwing to Hornet second baseman Reace Peppler, whose foot stretched across first base instead of aside the bag, that allowed Dickerson just enough time to reach safely.
With Peppler’s leg in Dickerson’s running lane, both fielder and runner tumbled over, affording Renbarger to scamper home for what turned into the winning run. Finally seeing a run on the scoreboard, senior Caitlyn Ryan followed with a sharp single to left.
“Having that run across, I kind of relaxed, sat back on a changeup and it got through,” Ryan said. “Early in the game, our at-bats were tense and everyone was trying to get it done. Our coaches told us, ‘You’re not going to get it done like that.’ In the sixth inning, we made it happen and we got four across.
“This seems like family, and I don’t want to be done playing with them. To win tonight, to get to keep playing, means a lot.”
Freshman Avery Grieder then lofted a fly ball to right field that Kiaja Bledsoe dropped, allowing Dwenger to plate two more runs before senior Emily Anglin’s RBI single to left-center capped the scoring.
One run provided enough cushion for the Saints’ emerging ace, freshman Josie Fett, who walked two first-inning batters for Angola (15-10) while battling a fit of early wildness. But Fett would find her location, retiring the Hornets 1-2-3 in four of the next five innings, hammering the low inside corner against right-handed batters.
“I was definitely nervous, but I knew what I had to do and I did it,” Fett said. “Having a cushion gives you a little bit of a relief. I knew that we were going to pull something out, because we were all really excited for this game and we needed to do it. I’m just happy that I can be trusted by my coaches, especially as a freshman.”
Wednesday’s defeat proved especially bittersweet for Dave Moyer, who still teaches at Bishop Dwenger despite coaching Angola since 2013. Still, with just one senior graduating, Moyer likes how his squad progressed this season.
“We’re getting tougher mentally,” Moyer said. “Earlier in the year, mental toughness was a big thing for us. A call here or there, if they go our way it changes. Unfortunately, we don’t get to move into the losers’ bracket and play our way out, we’re done. Just a tough one.”