PREP SOFTBALL: Eure's rare homer, Whelan's 17 Ks lift North Hardin past Adair County (05/26)

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By Nathaniel Bryan



By NATHANIEL BRYAN nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com RADCLIFF — Shameen Eure is supposed to be a speedy small-ball type of hitter, and Andi Whelan isn’t known as a strikeout artist. So much for that. A senior center fielder, Eure hit her first career over-the-fence home run and Whelan, a sophomore, struck out 17 as they led 17th District Tournament champion North Hardin to a 2-0 win over 20th District runner-up Adair County in Monday’s third 5th Region Softball Tournament quarterfinal. Eure’s blast was so shocking to her that she froze. “I don’t think I moved. I stood there and watched it because it felt good and smooth coming off the bat,” Eure said. “I really forgot to run, so I’m glad it was a home run because if it hadn’t been, I would have been stuck with a single or double.” The home run was the only big hit the 10th-ranked Trojans (26-4-1) managed off Adair County freshman Meridith Corbin, who struck out five and gave up three singles outside of the homer. While North Hardin didn’t have much luck hitting off Corbin, the Lady Indians (14-16) had even less luck against Whelan. Whelan struck out the first seven Lady Indians and 10 of the first 11 batters she saw. It was a 180-degree change from her performance in the district semifinals against John Hardin in which she didn’t get out of the second inning. “I wanted to come out and show I could still pitch,” said Whelan, who strained a muscle in her right (pitching) shoulder in the latter half of the regular season. “Since the injury, it’s been hard getting back.” Junior Jessie Shartzer, who earned the win in relief of Whelan in the district semifinals, said Whelan shouldn’t have felt the pressure to perform. “Andi has nothing to redeem herself for. She just had a bad game. That’s it,” Shartzer said. “It happens to everyone.” Whelan’s perfect game ended in the fourth inning on a dropped third strike. No matter. Whelan struck out the next three Lady Indians to strand the Adair County’s first base runner and record a rare four-strikeout inning. Senior second baseman Jessica Wethington broke up Whelan’s no-hit bid with a two-out single two innings later. Donnie Baker, North Hardin’s 10th-year coach, said he could tell Whelan was pitching with a purpose. “Andi threw the ball like she was capable,” Baker said. “It seemed like she had more pop on the ball and she had command of her off-speed stuff.” North Hardin, which moved to 8-0 in first-round games since 1998, advances tonight’s late semifinal against 19th District champion Nelson County (20-12), which beat 18th District runner-up LaRue County (10-15) in Monday’s fourth and final quarterfinal, 4-0.  “I wasn’t worried about a lot of strikeouts or a no-hitter or anything today,” said Whelan, whose team is 7-0 in regional semifinals since 1998. “I was just worried about getting to play tomorrow, which is what we get to do now.” NORTH HARDIN 2, ADAIR COUNTY 0                                             R    H E Adair County    000     000 0    0    1 1 North Hardin    002     000 0    2    4 0 Meridith Corbin and McKenzie Martin. Andi Whelan and Sarah Anderson. WP: Whelan. LP: Corbin. HR: Shameen Eure (NH). Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 505-1758