Vermillion High's softball girls, who breezed through the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record, open play at the nine-team state "B" tournament in Sioux Falls at 10:30 a.m. Saturday against the winner of an earlier game between Tri-Valley and Harrisburg.
Every team is assured of at least three games, and the state champion will be crowned at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Tanagers, if they win their first game, would play at 1:30 p.m. against West Central or Tea. If they keep winning, their next game would be at noon Sunday against the survivor among the top-bracket teams—Lennox, Madison, Mitchell or Brookings. The winner of that Sunday noon contest has a date in the title game at 3 against whoever comes out of the losers' bracket.
If Vermillion were to lose its opener, the Tanagers would have to play again right away at noon Saturday. Subsequent games in the losers' bracket would be on Sunday morning from 9 a.m. on.
The Tanagers finished the regular season with a doubleheader sweep over Tea in Vermillion last Sunday, winning 4-3 and 17-3.
Sunday's opener was a genuine playoff-type thriller after the Tanagers spotted Tea a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After that it was catch-up time, and VHS came through in style.
Meanwhile, hurler Jessie Finch, after the troublesome first inning, shut down Tea totally, not allowing a baserunner for the rest of the game.
Vermillion stayed down 3-0 until the third when Carlee Sorensen's timely triple scored Beth Szymonski and Claire Jones, who had reached on singles. In the fourth Shelby Christopherson stepped up big with the season's most crucial home run to tie the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the fifth a two-out double by Lizzy Bye set the table for Vermillion's winning score, which crossed on Sami Girard's sacrifice bunt.
The game ended after Tea batted in the sixth due to the 80-minute time rule.
If there was pressure in the nightcap to finish the season unbeaten, it wasn't obvious as the Tanagers rolled while Bye shut down Tea as pitcher.
Girard drove in two runs and Finch one in the first. A two-run homer by Bye, costly Tea errors, and RBI hits by Finch, LOindsay Robinet and Christopherson made the score 11-1 after two frames. Finch had an RBI double and Robinet a two-run single in the third. Tory McCreary doubled home two more runs in the fourth inning, after which the mercy rule applied, ending the game.