ROSSVILLE – For the first time since at least 2007, the Clinton Prairie softball team did not defeat Rossville via the 10-run rule on Tuesday.
The Hornets took the visiting Gophers the full seven innings, and was competitive, holding CP to only four hits. However, Rossville committed seven errors which Prairie took full advantage of in earning a 7-2 victory.
It may not have been a Rossville victory, but in some, tiny aspect, being able to ‘go the distance’ was a huge step forward for the program.
Prairie head coach Randy Cooper said his team struggled partly because his players weren’t used to the Hornets’ slower pitchers.
“It’s one of those things where the competition we play, the pitching’s a lot different than what you see when you come here,” Cooper said. “You’ve got to be ready for it and adjust and we just didn’t adjust to the pitching. What we did at the plate affected the way we played defense later on in the game.”
Prairie (5-9, 2-1 Hoosier Heartland Conference) was able to put together one big inning – which has been Rossville’s problem all season – scoring four runs in the second inning to grab a 6-0 lead.
The Gophers scored those four runs on two hits and three Hornet errors. Candace Pennington started the frame with a single and later scored on a play where third baseman Kaitlyn Layton committed an error off the bat of Jasmine Hanna. One batter later, Layton committed another error, charging a bunt and sending her throw to first baseman Kate Plybon well wide of the bag, allowing Abby Gingerich and Hanna to score for a 5-0 lead.
Two batters later, Emily Hollis tripled to plate Carrie Funk for a 6-0 lead.
Prairie got two runs in the first inning, with Funk scoring on an error by starting pitcher Madison Stonebraker and courtesy runner Kara Simon scoring on a double steal.
The Gophers made it 7-0 in the third when Emily Sabens scored on an error that came off the bat of Kelsie Funk.
“We didn’t come out and play well,” Rossville head coach Amanda Szabela said. “We were lackadaisical to begin with. We’ve had that bleeding inning and errors compounded on errors.”
Hollis got the win, allowing two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.
Rossville appeared to gain some confidence in the fourth inning. Prairie loaded the bases with one out, but Audrey Beason battled out of the jam by striking out Jade Mulvaney and Sabens, both on a called third strike.
“It was huge for Audrey, a big confidence boost for her and helped elevate the defense,” Szabela said. “After that, I felt the momentum shifted and I felt we had the upper hand. We got a few timely hits and we’re moving in the right direction.”
Rossville put together some scoring chances after that, getting runners on second and third with one out in the fourth. However, Plybon grounded out to Hollis and then Carlie Shiery was thrown out at home trying to score to end the inning.
The Hornets scratched together two runs in the sixth inning. Stonebraker and Beason reached on errors to start the inning. Schiery then singled to score Stonebraker and Beason scored on a double steal to make it 7-2.
Morgan Pratt and Kaitlyn Layton had one hit apiece for the Hornets (0-9, 0-3 HHC).
Sabens led Prairie with two hits.
“Emily has really made great strides,” Cooper said. “We’re proud of what Emily is doing for us right now.”
Stonebraker took the loss, allowing four runs on one hit with three walks and zero strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings. Beason allowed three runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk in 5 2/3 innings.
The two teams will meet in the semifinal of the Clinton County Tournament on Saturday at approximately 10:30 a.m. at Rossville.