News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

April 10, 2014

Braves Softball Bash a 'premier' early-season tournament

TERRE HAUTE — The Braves Softball Bash has grown to 12 schools in 2014, with high school teams looking to gauge their early-season progress against quality competition.

The host Braves have put together a solid 3-1 start that includes a doubleheader sweep of Casey, Ill., a newcomer to the field along with West Vigo.

In Pool A, the Braves will take on an Avon team ranked just outside the top 10 in the preseason Class 4A poll.

Bringing quality teams to Terre Haute like Avon, Class 4A No. 10 Roncalli — the defending Bash champions — and 2013 Class 2A regional champion Evansville Mater Dei makes for a deep tournament in quality, especially when you have strong Wabash Valley programs like Terre Haute North, Casey, South Putnam, South Vermillion, West Vigo, Northview and North Central in the field.

“It’s really becoming a premier high school tournament,” said North Central coach Erica Ketner-Arnold, a former South player. “It started out with not very many teams. Now it’s 12 teams from all over the state. It’s a chance to see teams that we don’t normally see on our schedule.”

Ketner-Arnold’s Thunderbirds (2-0) will take on South Putnam in Pool D’s opener at Miss Softball America and then faces Northview on Saturday prior to teams being divided into Gold, Silver and Bronze pools for a bracketed tournament.

The host Braves (3-1) are looking forward to playing four games in two days, especially on the heels of a frustrating loss to Center Grove.

“… But that loss doesn’t define us,” said South shortstop Kelsey Marlow, who had 10 RBIs in the doubleheader against Casey. “We learned a lot from that loss and I think it’s going to push us to have a lot of motivation for the Braves Bash this weekend.”

“Right now, we’re just working on picking each other up. We do have fire under our belt right now. We’re trying to pick it up and move on,” South’s center fielder Alexis Higgins said.

Coach Jack Kirchner’s Terre Haute North squad will surely be prepared to play some inspired softball as well.

The Patriots are off to a 2-0 start that includes a victory against the Center Grove squad that beat the Braves. The Patriots will open tonight in Pool B against South Vermillion.

Kirchner looks forward to his team’s matchup with Mater Dei, who features an all-state pitcher in Carolyn Wilmes.

“You’ve got some heavy hitters in there, got some good teams,” Kirchner said. “Like to get some kids in there and see where they’re at this point in the year. Sure, we want to win it, but four games in two days that’s going to help us through the season.”

Junior pitcher Allison Crick won 12 games a year ago. Crick, Valerie Lewis, Lorrie LaTourette, Sierra Sykes and freshman Kelsey Young could all take the ball at some point this weekend.

West Vigo’s pitching is led by senior Hannah Harden and sophomore Leah Morrison. The Vikings (1-1) take on Roncalli and Casey in their first pool games.

“I’d really like to see what our bats can do against some decent pitchers and still focus on our defense. We’re looking for execution offensively and defensively,” coach Cherish Easton said.

Stout is looking for growth from the Braves.

“We’re trying to figure out where we’re at as far as offense defense. Just trying to fit the pieces to the puzzle together for what fits us best,” Stout said. “I think the Braves Bash is probably one of the earliest indication of how good your team’s going to do with the competition we have coming in here year after year.”

 

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