Lady Cats tag Crawford to snare tourney title
As expected, the final rounds of the Providence Tournament Saturday in Clarksville had Corydon Central going up against Providence and Crawford County against North Harrison.
What was not anticipated, however, was that instead of the hosts and Corydon squaring off for the championship, it would be the Lady Pack and North vying for their first tournament title of the season.
Powered by the arm of senior Kristina Lambert and a strong infield defense, the Lady Cats prevailed 6-3 to capture the tourney title.
North Harrison posted a pair of two-out runs in the top of the third, three more in the fifth and added an insurance run in the sixth.
Lady Cat coach Ron Mitchell shuffled his lineup and made some defensive switches coming into the tournament. Obviously, the modifications paid off.
‘After our first few games, we thought we’d change things up a little bit. We switched the batting order around and made some defensive changes that we thought might work,’ Mitchell said. ‘They all stepped it up today, so I guess we’ll keep things the same until we need to shake things up a bit.
‘We got hits in the right places and with runners on base, and I think that will get our confidence up. We had a tough stretch last week against New Albany, Jeffersonville, Clarksville, so we really needed this.’
In addition to Lambert’s powerful presence on the mound (10 Ks, 0.00 ERA, two walks, eight hits in 14 innings of work), the Lady Cats got solid defensive play all around, and especially from third baseman Whitney Wetzel, second baseman Charissa Brooks and catcher Brandi Pirtle.
‘We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed to,’ Crawford coach Lonnie Presley said. ‘North Harrison is a decent team. I thought we played really well this morning and then played North pretty good this afternoon. We got the bat on the ball against Lambert, but we needed to do it with runners on. That, and we had a few too many errors.’
The Lady Pack actually drew first blood in the bottom of the second.
Brittany Lutz reached on an error and moved to second on an overthrow from Lambert to first baseman Beth Bruner. Parr singled and Melinda Grote walked to load the bases. Sarah Rothrock drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk from Lambert for the score.
Lambert redeemed herself in the next inning, ripping a one-out single to left, which was followed by a Rena Sullivan base knock. Bruner grounded out, but Ashley Davis came through with a clutch single to drive in two runs for a 2-1 Lady Cat lead.
Crawford put two runners in scoring position in the next inning but failed to convert.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Lambert struck again with another frozen rope to the left side. Sullivan bunted a single, and Bruner reached when reliever Grote tossed the ball past first and out of play, scoring Lambert. Sullivan, who had moved to third on the overthrow, scored on a wild pitch. Davis then carded her third RBI on a fielder’s choice to make the score 5-1.
The Lady Pack got one of those runs back when Bianca Haverstock reached on an error and came around on a single by Lutz.
North’s final score came when Brooks motored around for a three-bagger and scored on a sacrifice by freshman shortstop Ashley Sant.
Crawford tried to make a game of it in the bottom of the seventh as Tori Beaver reached on an error, stole second and scored on fielder’s choice. Lambert got Kim Presley to line out, and Benson grounded out to second to end the game.
‘Kristina did it on the mound and with her bat today, and Brooks made some nice plays over at second,’ Mitchell said. ‘I’ve been really eating (Brooks) up because she’s a better ball player than she’s been showing. Really, though, all of them stepped up today. They really played as a team and were aggressive on the base paths.’
Lambert held Providence to just two hits and didn’t allow a runner past first in the Lady Cats’ 1-0, opening round win over the Lady Pioneers.
Pirtle tripled and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Wetzel in the top of the third for the game-winner.
Crawford knocked off Corydon 5-4 in a 10-inning slugfest to advance to the championship game.
The Lady Pack took advantage of five Corydon errors and pounded out 11 hits against the Lady Panthers, who had 12 hits of their own.
Bianca Haverstock walked to lead off the top of the 10th and moved to third after a throwing error by Corydon third baseman Ashley Kuhn. Amanda Benson slapped a single to left for the game-winning RBI.
Corydon took a 1-0 lead after the first frame.
Sharon Brown walked and moved to third on a bunt single by Cassie Mathews. Two outs later, Leslie Radcliff continued her hot streak by banging an RBI single to center.
The contest would remain in Corydon’s favor, 1-0, through three innings.
Crawford took over in the top of the fourth, when all nine batters stepped to the plate.
Brittany Lutz reached on an error and was plated by Wendy Johnson, who rapped a triple down the left field line. Johnson scored on a fielder’s choice by Kara Parr for a 2-1 lead.
Melinda Grote blooped one down the right field line and was nearly gunned on the rare 9-4 put-out. Sarah Rothrock had an infield single and both runners advanced on a wild pitch from Corydon’s Maria McAfee.
Grote scored on a RBI single by Beaver and Rothrock came in on an error for a 4-1 advantage.
The Lady Panthers scratched out two more runs in the sixth as Dana Beaven singled and came in on a stand-up triple by Radcliff. Kuhn scored her teammate with a fielder’s choice.
After holding Crawford at bay in the bottom of the sixth, Corydon came back for the game-tying score in the seventh.
Brown reached on an error and advanced to second on a passed ball. Crecelius blasted a RBI double to knot the affair at 4-all.
McAfee retired the Lady Pack in order and the game went into extra innings.
Corydon looked like it might end the affair quickly when it loaded the bases with one out in the eighth; however, Grote struck out Cheyenne Wright and got Brown to pop out to left to end the threat.
Corydon loaded them up again in the ninth ‘ this time with no outs ‘ but a fly-out by Radcliff and a super play by Lutz in right, gunning Mathews at the plate, silenced the Lady Panther faithful. Katie Robson flew out to right to end the inning.
Crawford had runners at second and third with two outs in the ninth, but they were unable to convert until the top of the 10th.
‘I think the one that hurt us most was getting bases loaded in the ninth and not scoring,’ Corydon coach Joseph Oakes said. ‘We had other opportunities to score earlier, but that was really big.
‘We really hurt ourselves with errors again. We have got to eliminate those, otherwise, it’s going to be a long season.’
For the game, Corydon stranded 11 runners while 15 were left hung out to dry for the Lady Pack.
In the consolation game, Providence scored at least one run in each frame of a five-inning, 12-2 blowout of Corydon.
‘We just had no energy after we lost to Crawford,’ Oakes said. ‘You could tell that the girls were wanting to be in the championship game. I think the fact that we went so many innings in the first game and then to lose it the way we did, I’m not sure we were going to do anything good against (Providence). There was just no energy there.’