News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

May 26, 2014

Defense lets Vigo pair down

Seasons come to end for Braves, Patriots

PLAINFIELD — High school softball teams from Terre Haute South and Terre Haute North had several things in common as they entered Class 4A Plainfield Sectional play on Monday, solid 19-win seasons and lofty postseason goals among them.

Unfortunately, by the time Monday ended the Braves and Patriots had a couple more things in common: uncharacteristic, maybe even unprecedented, defensive gaffes that put both teams in holes they couldn’t dig out of. South lost 11-1 in six innings to Brownsburg, North 7-1 to the host Quakers.

“[Seven] hits is not enough,” coach Dwayne Stout of the Braves said after his team’s game. “Couple that with our errors, and we just didn’t play well enough to win.”

“We always have that one inning where we shoot ourselves in the foot, and then we have to dig ourselves out,” noted coach Jack Kirchner of the Patriots.

South’s troubles began in the top of the first inning. A leadoff single, a sacrifice and an error put runners at first and third with one out, and the first run was heading to the plate when Brownsburg pitcher Carlie Wallace grounded to Mackenzie McGregor at first. McGregor got the out and fired home, but Wallace was in the way and the ball bounced away.

Stout said after the game that the plate umpire admitted later — much later — that Wallace had been in the baseline and probably should have been called for interference. But the Bulldogs wound up with a runner at third and a run in and the next batter, Lucy Paczkowski, hit a two-run homer.

In the top of the third, a leadoff walk blossomed into two more runs when South fielders, twice in a row, couldn’t catch the ball on force plays. The second of those errors brought the first run in and Paczkowski’s sacrifice fly made it 5-0 — all the runs unearned at this point.

Brownsburg got two earned runs in the top of the fourth, the first on a leadoff homer by Heather Reed, but a 2-0 deficit wouldn’t have been insurmountable once the Braves started hitting in the bottom of the inning. McGregor led off with her 10th homer of the season, a majestic drive that cleared the 195-foot fence by perhaps 75 feet.

The Braves had two other hits later in the inning but couldn’t add any more runs.

And any momentum they might have gained was quickly taken away by that short fence.

A one-out single and Reed’s second straight homer — a cheap one that center fielder Lexi Higgins would have grabbed easily if she’d had room — made it 9-1 in the top of the fifth, and the Bulldogs got two more runs in the sixth.

Ironically, South had two hits in the bottom of the fifth and got McGregor to the plate again, but she also got under a pitch and her towering popup was caught at the fence to thwart her team’s last chance.

“A 19-10 season is not bad,” Stout philosophized afterward. “I’m proud of the girls, and I’m proud of our senior class. All four of them [McGregor, Higgins, Kelsey Marlow and Taylor Schilling] are moving on to the next level [to play in college], and that’s what it’s all about.” Higgins had several outstanding plays on Monday, and Schilling threw out a runner trying to steal.

North also fell behind in the top of the first inning when Plainfield got a hit, a sacrifice and an RBI single, but the Patriots countered in similar fashion in the bottom of that frame: walk to Katie Herrick, sacrifice by Ryleigh Scott and an RBI double to the fence by Conner Nelson. Allison Crick retired the first two Plainfield batters in the top of the second, and then the roof caved in.

Taylor Dykins got an infield single and Drue Kluember, Plainfield’s No. 9 hitter, drew a walk. Ashlee Gibson smashed an infield hit off Scott’s glove at shortstop that drove in a run, but the Patriots compounded their problems with two ill-advised throws — an overthrow at third, then an overthrow at home — and Gibson never stopped running, scoring the third run of the inning on what looked like a T-ball home run.

“A ground ball to short and they score three runs,” Kirchner lamented afterward. “Now we have to play a little different. … It changed the whole game, that one play.”

Plainfield added two more runs in the top of the third, but then North showed signs of coming back — until their other season-long bugaboo, getting the big hit, surfaced again.

In the bottom of the third, hits by Herrick and Scott and a walk to Nelson loaded the bases with two out, but nobody scored. In the fourth, a walk, a hit and an error loaded the bases with one out and Herrick smoked a hot grounder down the first-base line — foul by inches instead of a possible three-run triple. A couple pitches later she hit a smash down the third-base line, but it was turned into an inning-ending double play.

“We had our opportunties,” Kirchner said, “but we couldn’t get the two-out hit — or the one-out hit.” North finished the game with 10 runners left on base.

“They played hard,” Kirchner said of his team. “They’re good kids, and good ballplayers. … I’ll miss the eight seniors [Herrick, Jazmine Allen, Madi Kelly, Lorrie LaTourette, Paige McClain, Sierra Sykes, Jessica Will and Morgan Young]; a lot of them have played for me for four years.” Allen and Will had North’s two defensive gems Monday.

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