Area pitcher leads team to national championship

The Lids Indiana Dreams travel team lost its three-run lead against the Texas-based Glory in the first bracket game of the July 12-16 USSSA Fast-Pitch Nationals in Iowa.

Lids Indiana Dreams was down 4-3 and had to lean on Columbus pitcher Maddi Rutan to pull out a 5-4 win in the final two innings. The Dreams continued to rely on Rutan for eight of the nine games on its way to winning the 11-and-under national tournament.

“They gave us a run for our money,” Rutan said. “But the two last innings, we started hitting more, and my defense backed me up on the field when I was pitching.”

Rutan also received the Outstanding Pitcher Award for her solid play throughout the entire tournament. She didn’t even know the award existed going into the tournament and didn’t think she would win once she found out about it.

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“I was hoping that I was going to get it,” Rutan said. “But I didn’t really think that I was going to be good enough to get it.”

The Dreams faced Glory for a second time in the championship game and beat them in a 9-0 shutout. Rutan played in national tournaments before, but this was the first time becoming a national champion. Beating Glory in the first game gave the Dreams an advantage because Glory got knocked down to the loser’s bracket after that.

A team has to play more games in the loser’s bracket to make it to the championship. Glory had just finished a game not long before playing the Dreams for a second time. Rutan knew how important it was for the team to win that first game to better the chances of running the table.

“I didn’t want to go to the loser’s bracket because I know that’s harder to fight our way out of than staying in the winners bracket,” Rutan said. “So I tried a little bit harder in it.”

Rutan has been playing softball since she was 5 years old, but this is only her second year with the Zionsville-based Dreams. She was introduced to softball by her father, who also played for most of his life.

Rutan said playing in tournaments like the USSSA Nationals helps her sharpen her skills. The seventh-grader will be using her skills next year for Central Middle School’s softball team. She is no stranger to the team since she already played with Central last year as a sixth-grader.

Her pitching coach, Ron McDonald Jr., has no doubt that she will do well playing for Central. He also said he wasn’t surprised about Rutan winning the Outstanding Pitching Award.

“She’s pretty good,” McDonald Jr. said. “… She’s got pretty good velocity, she hits spots well and she has a pretty good spin on the ball.”

Maddi Rutan

Name: Maddi Rutan

Age: 12

Year: Will be a seventh-grader

School: Central Middle School

Travel Team: The Lids Indiana Dream (Zionsville)

Position: Pitcher

National tournament performance: Team national champions; Outstanding Pitcher Award

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.