CLINTON — The hundreds and hundreds of South Vermillion fans who surrounded the Wildcats’ high school softball field several rows deep may not have recognized their surroundings Tuesday night.
And unfortunately for the host team, those fans might not have recognized the Wildcats either.
Uncharacteristic errors led to eight unearned runs and hard-luck hitting made that impossible to overcome for South Vermillion, which fell 8-0 to Tri-West in Class 3A regional play.
Volunteers this week had given the South Vermillion field a decorative upgrade, not to mention having it pristine for play despite Monday’s weather.
“We’ve had tremendous support, not only from the community but from businesses,” coach Mike Andrew said after the game. “They planted trees, they put rock in … and I had four inches of rain at my house [Monday] night, so they were out early this morning getting [the field] ready to go.”
Maybe the biggest crowd ever for a South Vermillion softball game also had some future players in it, the coach added.
“They cancelled the local [softball] leagues so the little kids could come and watch,” Andrew added.
The Wildcats themselves had a promising beginning Tuesday as pitcher Taylor Andrew retired the first five Tri-West batters without incident. Then came a soft opposite-field single and a walk; Andrew got the next batter to tap weakly to the infield.
The ball was misplayed, allowing the first run to score, and the next batter — the ninth in the Bruins’ batting order — hit what was probably an outside waste pitch on an 0-and-2 count over the right-field fence. Suddenly the visitors were up 4-0.
South Vermillion had runners on base in every inning but the last one, but no one reached base in four of those six innings until two were out. Probably the best chance the home team had to get back in the game was in the bottom of the third, when Taylor Andrew and Daphne Dunegan singled after two out and Ariel Spivey’s line drive to center field was juggled and nearly dropped before the fielder regained control just in time.