Are Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South the cream of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference high school softball crop, or have their early MIC schedules been skim milk?
Those questions could not be answered definitively after Saturday’s games at Ben Davis, where both Patriots and Braves notched a pair of fairly one-sided wins over the host Giants and Indianapolis North Central.
A definitive answer that can be expected, however, is which of the two will stay atop the league standings. That answer comes Tuesday, when the Braves play at North — junior varsity at 5 p.m., varsity at approximately 6:30 unless there’s questionable weather, coach Jack Kirchner of the Patriots indicated.
That hasn’t been unusual in recent seasons, and coach Dwayne Stout of the Braves — who beat North Central 8-2 and Ben Davis 7-3 — indicated he would answer the cream question positively.
“North and South are in the equation [to determine best MIC team],” Stout emphasized. “I think North has the best batting average, but we’re a close second. Our two programs have come a long way.”
Stout also inadvertantly said yes to the skim milk part when asked about his team’s seven-run, seventh-inning rally in its opener against the Panthers on Saturday, however.
“The first game was a little rough,” he admitted. “We had to adjust to the pitching. We faced North Central [the Farmersburg one] on Thursday, and [Christian Chambers of the Thunderbirds] brings it, like a lot of the teams we’ve played so far. Facing a junkball pitcher today, it took us quite a while [to adjust].”
Kirchner, whose teams had 7-1 and 15-3 victories, said he isn’t sure yet if the Vigo County teams are the best the MIC has to offer, but he’s happy with his own squad so far.
“The kids are starting to come together,” he said. “Right now one of my biggest problems is trying to get playing time for everyone.
“The big game is Tuesday night. Both of us are 4-0 in the MIC, and [the outcome of the game] will keep one of us in play [for the championship].”
Even though the Braves wound up outhitting the Panthers 13-4 in Saturday’s first game — and got the day’s top defensive play on a tumbling catch by center fielder Lexi Higgins — they were three outs away from suffering a monumental upset loss.
The top of South’s batting order combined for seven hits, however, and before the Panthers could record an out in the seventh the bases were full of Hollie Jones, Kelsey Marlow and Mackenzie McGregor. Cheyenne Reinig’s two-run single brought home the tying and lead runs and opened the floodgates for the big inning.
North’s opener wasn’t quite as suspenseful. A two-run double by Allie McKinney — the first of her four two-baggers for the day — was the big hit in a three-run top of the first, and Alisha Ludwig retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning.
Ludwig did the same thing the next four innings and took a perfect game into the bottom of the sixth, when a one-out grounder off the end of the bat sneaked through the right side for the Giants’ first hit. The senior lefty finished with a three-hitter, Lorrie LaTourette’s three-run homer in the third was the Patriots’ other big hit and second baseman Jessica Will sparkled defensively.
The Patriots gave Allison Crick plenty of cushion in their second game with a seven-run second inning. McKinney drove in four runs with her three doubles, while Sierra Sykes and Katie Herrick combined for four hits and five RBIs.
“We hit the ball,” Kirchner said. “When you’re averaging 14 or 15 hits a game [North got 15 against the Panthers] you’d better be in the ballgame.”
Jackie Swain and Hanna Gossman combined in the circle for South, but Swain — who pitched the first six innings against North Central and the last four against Ben Davis — got both victories and didn’t allow an earned run.
Swain also got South’s biggest hit against the Giants, a two-run double off the top of the 10-foot-high left-field fence that was the key to a five-run second inning that wiped out a 2-0 deficit.
Jones had her second three-hit game of the day and Reinig added two singles and a triple.
Terre Haute North 303 000 1 — 7 8 0
Ben Davis 000 000 1 — 1 3 1
W — Ludwig, 1-1. L — McDonald. HR — THN: LaTourette (3).
Highlights — For North, Allie McKinney was 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBIs; Jazmine Allen 1 for 1 with 2 runs and an RBI; and Lorrie LaTourette 1 for 3 with a 3-run homer.
Terre Haute South 000 100 7 — 8 13 5
Indianapolis North Central 000 200 0 — 2 4 1
W — Swain. L — McNary.
Highlights — For South, Hollie Jones was 3 for 5; Lexi Higgins 2 for 3; Kelsey Marlow and Mackenzie McGregor both 2 for 4; and Cheyenne Reinig had a 2-run single that gave her team the lead in the top of the seventh.
Terre Haute South 051 100 0 — 7 12 3
Ben Davis 210 000 0 — 3 6 2
W — Swain. L — McDonald.
Highlights — For South, Cheyenne Reinig was 3 for 4 with a triple and 2 RBIs; Hollie Jones 3 for 4 with 2 runs; Jackie Swain 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBIs; and Taylor Schilling 1 for 4 with a double.
Terre Haute North 170 304 — 15 15 1
Indianapolis North Central 003 000 — 3 6 3
W — Crick, 8-0. L — Kinder.
Highlights — For North, Allie McKinney was 3 for 3 with 3 doubles and 4 RBIs; Sierra Sykes 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs; and Katie Herrick 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs.
Next — Terre Haute North (13-1, 4-0 MIC) hosts Riverton Parke on Monday, then hosts Terre Haute South (9-6, 4-0) on Tuesday. Indianapolis North Central (1-8, 0-4) plays at Ben Davis (1-6-1, 0-3) on Monday.