May 22, 2024 at 2:27 p.m.

Sliding in safely

Champ steals home to mercy rule Delta in Jay’s first playoff win in nine years
Riah Champ, a senior at JCHS, avoids Ava Montero’s tag by inches in a steal of home plate to beat Delta by a 13-3 mercy rule in the  IHSAA Class 3A Sectional 24 opener. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)
Riah Champ, a senior at JCHS, avoids Ava Montero’s tag by inches in a steal of home plate to beat Delta by a 13-3 mercy rule in the IHSAA Class 3A Sectional 24 opener. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)

MUNCIE — Riah Champ has had no shortage of walk offs throughout her high school career.

She can now say she’s walked a team off with a steal of home plate.

The Jay County High School softball team won its first playoff game since 2015 as Champ’s steal of home plate ended the IHSAA Class 3A Sectional 24 opener against host Delta Eagles after just five innings with a final of 13-3.

The win earns JCHS a date with the Mississinewa Indians today at 7 p.m. in the sectional semifinal.

“I think they were really prepared and ready to go today,” JCHS head coach Doug Arbuckle said. “All the way through the lineup, when we get that production, we’re a hard team to beat.”

The Patriots entered the bottom of the fifth inning with an 11-3 lead over Delta. Morgan Missicano started off with a short pop up to second base for the first out.

Mallory Winner got all the way to second on an error by Fancy Robbins at shortstop to put a runner on. (Brooklyn Bright pinch ran for Winner.)

Champ followed Winner’s lead with a swinging bunt that she beat out for a single. She took second with no contest to put the game-ending run on second base.

Jaelynn Lykins got Bright across the plate and Champ to third with a groundout to Hailee Hamilton at second base.

Haley Loser started Jozey Shimp with a strike in the following at bat, before spiking the second pitch in the dirt. Ava Montero’s block kept the ball in front of the plate, but Champ crashed home plate hard after getting a big lead off. 

By the time Montero popped up, retrieved the ball and attempted to put a tag on Champ, the JCHS senior was inches out of Montero’s reach.

“I was on third base and we just needed one more run,” Champ said. “They didn’t think I’m coming and I was just going. …

“I was excited and just kind of speechless honestly.”

The win gave the Patriots (15-6) their first playoff win since the 2015 season, which was a 14-4 victory over South Side in Class 4A.

“It feels really good,” Winner said. “I know that Jay County has not been able to do that in a really long time, so it feels good that we’re the first in a while.”

Jay County got contributions all throughout its lineup. The Patriots found ways to mash off of Loser in the first and third innings, putting up five runs in the former and four in the latter. Two more in the fourth set up the early walk off in the fifth.

Hallie Schwieterman and Carley Trinidad had two of the best days at the plate. Schwieterman finished with three RBIs, two hits and two runs. The highlight of her night came in the fourth inning, when she hit a towering two-run home run over the scoreboard in center field.

Trinidad led JCHS in both hits and RBIs. She went 3-for-3 with a double and four RBIs.

“That’s just awesome out of two freshmen,” Arbuckle said. “At this point in time in the season, they’re not really freshmen. But to get that kind of production out of them is a testament to how good of athletes they are. A super job by them down there in the order.”

On the other side, the Patriots had a clean day in the field, never committing an error, while Winner and Trinidad only surrendered five hits throughout the game.

Jay County’s Mallory Winner delivers a pitch during the sectional opener against Delta on Tuesday. Winner led the Patriots to their first postseason victory since 2015 in the circle. (The Commercial Review/Andrew Balko)


Delta (3-21) only managed to score on a pair of home runs – a solo shot by Caidyn Freiburger in the first and a two-run blast by Addie Smith in the fourth. Outside of the two home runs, Winner held things down for JCHS without regular traffic on the base paths.

“I was getting ahead early in the count and making sure I was hitting my spots,” Winner said. “After that, I was just throwing the pitches I needed to throw to keep them off balance.”

Winner picked up the win after throwing four innings with four strikeouts and three earned runs. Trinidad struck out the side in the one inning of relief.

Loser suffered the loss for the Eagles after pitching all 4 ⅔ innings, in which she gave up four earned runs on 13 hits.

Today, Jay County has the opportunity to win two games in the postseason since 2009. Arbuckle mentioned that his team will need to play similarly today as it did Tuesday if it wants a chance at the first sectional finals appearance since 2010.

“We’re not going to change the formula,” Arbuckle said. “We’re going to come out, Mal will toe the rubber to start out with and we’ll hope to come off that bus with the bats hot and keep it going.”

Jay County Patriots

vs. Delta Eagles

IHSAA Class 3A

Sectional 24 opener

Jay County (15-6)

    ab    r    h    bi

Missicano rf    4    2    1    0

Winner p    4    0    2    1

   Garrett cr    0    0    0    0

   Bright pr    0    1    0    0

Champ 3b    4    2    2    0

Lykins c    3    0    0    1

   Romine cr    0    1    0    0

Shimp 1b    2    2    1    1

Fraley cf    2    2    1    0

Schwieterman ss    3    2    2    3

Trinidad 2b    3    1    3    4

Yates lf    2    0    1    0    

Totals    27    13    13    10

Delta (3-21)

    ab    r    h    bi

Robbins ss    3    0    0    0

Loser p    3    0    1    0

Freiburger 1b    2    1    1    1

Carter lf    2    0    1    0

Timmerman 3b    2    1    0    0

Montero c    2    0    1    0

   Rozzi cr    0    0    0    0

Smith cf    2    1    1    2

Hamilton 2b    2    0    0    0

Temple dp    1    0    0    0

   Seals rf    0    0    0    0    

Totals    19    3    5    3

Delta    100    20X    X — 3

Jay County    504    22X    X — 13

LOB — Delta 2, Jay County 4. 2B — Jay County 3 (Champ, Shimp, Trinidad). HR — Delta 2 (Freiburger, Smith), Jay County 1 (Schwieterman). SB — Jay County 3 (Missicano 2, Champ 1).

    IP    H    R    ER    BB    SO


Loser    4.2    13    13    4    2    0

Jay County

Winner    4    5    3    3    0    4

Trinidad    1    0    0    0    0    3




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