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Our time is now: Lady Panthers claim first Mid-Southern softball title

Our time is now: Lady Panthers claim first Mid-Southern softball title
Our time is now: Lady Panthers claim first Mid-Southern softball title
After coming up with the game-ending hit, Jolanna Sitles, right, celebrates with fellow seniors Jordan Behagg and Jennifer McCarty. (Brian Smith)

Corydon Central softball coach Kim Briscoe taught a new class Thursday: Shop Vac 101. Heavy rains early in the day put home plate underwater and some areas of the softball diamond were a bit soggy.
Yet with the final Mid-Southern Conference game on tap, along with prom Saturday and a load of games the week before sectional, Briscoe wanted to get the game in as the rain clouds passed over. Out came the vacuum to soak water off the field.
‘At 2:15, I came outside, it quit raining and the sun poked through and I said, ‘I can get this field ready.’ I’ve been doing fields for 30 years,’ Briscoe said. ‘Some students, players and coaches worked their tails off to get this game in.’
There was no secret to getting the game in; the Lady Panthers wanted to close out an undefeated MSC season for their first title in the program’s history.
Corydon Central didn’t have much of a problem, backed by three hit days from Jolanna Stiles and Courtney Thieneman, to knock off Austin 10-0 in six innings to finish 9-0 in league play.
Stiles’s third hit put the game away in the bottom of the fifth. She blasted a double to the fence, plating Katelyn Botts, finishing off the 10-run mercy rule win.
‘Lately, I have been in a slump,’ Stiles said. ‘I struck out every at bat it seems in the last few games. Today, I came ready to play and I wanted to be confident because I knew we could do it.’
Stiles is one of six seniors who make-up the current Lady Panthers’ roster who celebrated with teammates after Botts crossed the plate.
‘It’s an amazing feeling to go undefeated,’ Stiles said. ‘I’ve been wanting to do this since I was a sophomore.’
The win was also the 20th of the season, another goal the team set prior to the season.
‘I have six seniors who’ve made that difference the last three years, putting up with my high expectations and my demanding ways the game has to be played,’ Briscoe said.
The fast-pitch softball program began in 1994 under the direction of Briscoe. After winning the sectional title in 2001, the coach took four years off to watch her daughter play high school softball along with earning her master’s degree. Briscoe returned to the coaching box in 2006 and helped lead the Lady Panthers to a sectional title last season.
‘It gets that little monkey off our back,’ she said. ‘I expected this many times, but it never seemed to happen. The will to win with these kids is a phenomenal thing. The talent in this program is phenomenal. There is also so much talent in the history of the program and it was just time for us to do it.’
Against Austin, sophomore Jenna Keinsley tossed a 10-strikeout, one-hit shutout, picking up her 20th win in the circle. Nine of the wins have come via shutout.
‘If Jenna Keinsley is not the pitcher of the year in the conference, I don’t know who is,’ Briscoe said.
Courtney Thieneman returned to the lineup after her and a few teammates battled a virus. The third baseman collected three hits and four RBIs in her return effort. Thieneman and outfielder Botts lead the team in hitting, making up a balanced lineup.
Several challenging games await before the Lady Panthers try to defend their Class 3A sectional title. They host Floyd Central today (Wednesday) at 5 p.m., then travel to New Albany tomorrow (5 p.m.) and Meade County (Ky.) on Friday at 5 p.m.
‘I think we’ll be challenged,’ Briscoe said. ‘I think we can win them all, but we’ve got to do a lot of the things needed to win softball. If we keep our skills going at the level they are currently at and the thinking skills catch up, then we are going to be all right.’
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