Source: The Corydon Democrat

McAfee triple fuels Lady Cat rally

by Wade Bell

April 22, 2014

The North Harrison Lady Cats softball team rallied from a four-run deficit late in the game to top county-rival Corydon Central in an important Mid-Southern Conference match-up Thursday afternoon in Ramsey. North Harrison scored 10 runs in two innings to pull out a 13-7 win to improve to 2-0 in the MSC.

“A lot better than last night,” North Harrison coach Eric Pavey said after his team rebounded from a disappointing loss against Floyd Central last Wednesday. “We still got a slow start, but we finally came back on one ... As a coach, you look at the losses. That’s just me as a coach, but it does help the feeling a little bit.”

“We are having some real growing pains as far as being mentally tough play after play, inning after inning,” Corydon Central coach Kim Briscoe said. “I’m not going to excuse that no matter who’s out there on the field.

“Our third baseman just came back from a hand injury. My starting catcher has been suspended for eight games to start the season,” she said. “We started out with a whole battery of kids, and we’ve kind of fallen off until we have to realize the reality of your performance is that you’ve got to come ready to play. We haven’t played a full seven innings yet.”

Corydon Central started the game with a good inning, scoring two runs to take an early lead. With one out, Alyston Chambers walked and Payton Windell reached safely on a North Harrison error. Jenna Stiles singled to score Chambers. Bethany McClanahan then launched a sacrifice fly to score Windell, and the Lady Panthers had a 2-0 lead.

North Harrison got two runners on in their first at-bat but failed to convert.

Corydon Central went three-up-and-out at its next turn at the plate, then the Lady Cats struck pay dirt. Abby Bozynski walked, then Kodi House went all the way to second on a Corydon Central error, putting both runners in scoring position. Aspen Luther reached safely as Bozynski scored. Alaina Sears grounded out, but she earned an RBI with House scoring. Jourdan McAfee grounded out but also earned an RBI as Luther scored, giving the Lady Cats a 3-2 edge.

Neither team scored in the third inning, but Corydon Central had its big inning in the top of the fourth, where it would take a commanding lead. Stiles looped a single, then McClanahan put runners at second and third following another error by the Lady Cats. With one out, Bailey Money put a bunt single on the ground to load the bases. Morgan Nalley hit into a fielder’s choice to score courtesy runner Haley Chambers to tie the game.

Chelsey Smith loaded the bases again with a bunt single that stopped in front of the plate. Kristen Alcorn then had her biggest swing of the night, launching a shot over the centerfield fence for a grand slam. That pushed Corydon Central to a 7-3 lead, putting some tension in the North Harrison dugout.

“I just went out there and told them, ‘We’ve scored 20 in a game before’,” Pavey said. “ ‘We’ve still got four good, strong innings left in us. This is nothing. We’ve come back from worse than this’.”

North Harrison put a runner on board in the bottom of the fourth inning but failed to score.

Corydon Central went three-up-and-out in the fifth inning, then the Lady Cats started their rally to get back in the game. McAfee laid down a bunt single and stole second. With one out, Brittany Rudolph singled, scoring McAfee. House reached safely following a Corydon Central error, then Kyia Oppel singled.

Stiles then threw two passed balls, the first allowed both runners to advance. The second allowed Sears to score, closing the gap to two. Bozynski grounded out, but House scored to tighten the gap to a single run, 7-6.

“After the grand slam home run, we got complacent and didn’t work hard, and you can’t roller-coaster your performance like that and expect it to have any consistency,” Briscoe said. “Right now, we’re looking for some kind of consistency.”

Corydon Central threatened to add to its lead in the top of the sixth but failed to cross the plate. That opened the door for the Lady Cats in the bottom of the inning, and the Lady Cats jumped in with both feet.

Following walks by Kodi House and Katie Freeberg, Jesika VanZandt put down a bunt single to load the bases. They didn’t stay that way long as McAfee tripled to score all three runners.

The hits kept coming as Kaylin Bright singled to score McAfee and Kenedy House bouncing a triple off the centerfield fence to push Rudolph across the plate. With one out, Bozynski got help from a Corydon Central error to reach safely and to score House, giving the Lady Cats a 13-7 lead.

“The sixth inning needs to be credited to North for being patient in the batter’s box and getting their opportunities, hitting the ball at their opportunities,” Briscoe said. “I would give North more credit than I would give us any negative input. We already know what that is, giving too many free passes. You can’t play defense on a walk.”

Corydon Central managed just a single base runner in the top of the seventh, as the Lady Cats came away with the six-run win.

“We’re still hitting the ball well,” Pavey said. “The unforced errors hurt us a little bit, and Corydon Central came with some nice little sticks. The (Alcorn) girl hit a nice home run. I think we just stayed in the ballgame and stayed with our game plan with the hits and shored up some defensive problems that we had and came out victorious.”

“We hurt ourselves by walking batters late in that sixth inning,” Briscoe said. “The bottom of the lineup, we’re walking the first two hitters. That never should happen at a varsity level. So, we’ve got a lot of growing up to do and taking responsibility for our actions and looking inside our own jerseys and saying, ‘Hey, I’m better than this,’ or ‘I’ve got to do this with more intensity’.”

Corydon Central finished with six hits — Stiles had two of those — and three errors. From the pitching circle, Stiles threw for seven strikeouts, four walks and one hit North Harrison batter.

“Once we get everybody in the lineup, then you have to work with establishing another new chemistry,” Briscoe said. “That’s possible. That’s why we play the season, to prepare for the tournament. They’re on their own destruction. Their paths are their own making. There’s not a coach in the world that can do anything about that. No screaming, no yelling, no motivation can change that ... That comes from within.”

North Harrison finished with 10 hits and two errors. McAfee had three hits, and Rudolph had two. Rudolph struck out three Corydon Central batters and walked two.

“I think we started putting a little pressure on them when we started getting bases loaded,” Pavey said. “We started stealing on them. I could feel the momentum turning then before (McAfee) hit that (triple). What I told her was just point of contact. They pulled everybody in because they wanted to make the play at home and any hit we have is going to score a run. That’s our game-tying run if she just hits the ball. She made a great point of contact and made a good drive.”

Briscoe said her team has to find more from within themselves.

“Guts, heart, they just kind of coast,” she said. “They don’t play hard, and I’m not used to that ... It’s going to take a whole lot more from the neck up to overcome some of the adversities they’re experiencing right now. They will. They’re kids. They’re pretty resilient.”

Besides being an important conference win, Pavey said the win also boosts his team from a mental aspect.

“It puts us 2-0 in the conference, which is a good place to be,” he said. “I asked the girls before the season; they said Corydon Central is their biggest rivalry. They said they literally wanted to get up for this game, and I think they did it. I think they did a good job doing it.”

Corydon Central 200 500 0 – 7 6 3

North Harrison 030 037 x – 13 10 2

W – Rudolph (5-1), L – Stiles.

3B – McAfee (NH), Ke. House (NH); HR – Alcorn (CC).