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Panthers put away NH

Panthers put away NH
Panthers put away NH
North Harrison senior Alaina Sears chases down Corydon Central's Kaleigh Oskin in the Lady Panthers' 4-2 win. Photos by Wade Bell

Mistakes can make for a rough day in any sport, whether it be an individual or a team event. Multiple mistakes in abnormal numbers can make for days one just wants to forget. The North Harrison Lady Cats had one of those days Thursday afternoon when they suffered through six errors in a 4-2 loss to county-rival Corydon Central in a Mid-Southern Conference softball game.
‘I thought for a rival game our enthusiasm wasn’t there like Corydon’s was,’ North Harrison coach Gregg Oppel said. ‘I think that will change immediately. I’ve got a great group of young ladies; phenomenal, great students. Their GPAs are unbelievable, but they just don’t get too excited about anything. So, we’re doing everything we can, trying to bring out that enthusiasm. … We love coaching them. I really think in the next few weeks we’re going to make some great adjustments and we’ll be able to compete.’
‘It was sloppy, ugly on our side, I thought, to be honest,’ Corydon Central co-coach Jeff Carver said. ‘Our pitcher worked her tail off. We’ve lived off our pitcher. Our defense was so-so. We made a couple of errors there that were simple-crazy that we didn’t get. I know we left multiple base runners on that didn’t get to cross.’
In the first inning and a half, both Corydon Central and the Lady Cats had runners in scoring position but failed to get to the plate.
In the bottom of the second, the Lady Panthers drew first blood and a lot of it. Emily Harbaugh, Samantha Ripperdan and Katelyn Paden all singled to load the bases. Cami Schmitt hit into a fielder’s choice, and Harbaugh crossed the place for Corydon Central’s first run. With two outs, Kaleigh Oskin singled to score Paden for a 2-0 lead.
Corydon Central wasn’t done yet as Schmitt scored while Oskin was being chased in a rundown by Alaina Sears. The Lady Panthers went up 3-0.
North Harrison got one of those runs back in the top of the third inning. With one out, Kodi House reached first on a Corydon Central error. With two outs, the Lady Panthers made a second error with Kyia Oppel batting to allow House to score and Oppel to second base. It was the Lady Cats’ only run of the inning, however, leaving Corydon Central with a 3-1 lead.
‘For us, it’s early,’ Oppel said. ‘We’ve had four rain-outs. Once we start executing a little more, we’ll probably bring a little more excitement. They get down a little bit. You can’t get onto the field with the rain-outs. It seems like some other teams were getting to play and we weren’t playing. It was odd days.’
‘I’ve got a lot of speed,’ Carver said. ‘We’re very young. We’re still learning with the youth. I’ve got three freshmen starting, two juniors and the rest are sophomores, so we’re a fairly young group. Our two pitchers (Kaleigh Oskin and Sydney Oskin) we’ve lived off of this year. They’re awesome little athletes. I just need my offense to pick up a little bit and help them out a little bit and take the pressure off of them.’
Corydon Central failed to score in the bottom of the third, and neither team saw home plate in the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, the Lady Cats made the game tighter. Kendall Beyerle walked and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sierra Simler. Corydon Central committed another error with House batting that allowed Simler to score to close the gap to 3-2 and House to second base.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Panthers scored a run North Harrison didn’t want to see. Alexis Orme reached base following another North Harrison mistake. The Lady Cats then converted two fielder’s choice plays, leaving Maddie Fessel on first. Following a single by Harbaugh, a North Harrison error on a bunt by Ripperdan allowed Fessel to score for a 4-2 Lady Panthers’ lead.
After North Harrison went three up and out in the top of the sixth, Corydon Central got two runners on in the bottom of the inning but failed to convert.
North Harrison had one more chance in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, Beyerle was hit by a pitch for a free pass to first base. The Lady Cats hoped to start a run, but the Corydon Central defense held, turning a double play on a Grace Schroeder grounder to end the game for a 4-2 victory.
‘No. 1, I tip my hat to Corydon,’ Oppel said. ‘(Co-coach) Kevin (Oskin) does a great job with them, and the coaching staff does a great job. They’re fundamentally sound. Anytime one of the Oskins is on the mound they can compete with anybody in the state. They’re just phenomenal. Her speed affected us a little bit.’
‘Our bats haven’t worked like they have rest of the week,’ Carver said. ‘They put a lot behind the ball today. I don’t know where that went. It was a rival game for one. Anytime it’s a rival game it’s not the best team (that wins); it’s the one that wants it the most.’
Corydon Central finished with seven hits, with Kaleigh Oskin and Harbaugh hitting two singles each. Sydney Oskin had a big day from the pitching circle, striking out 10 North Harrison batters, walking one and hitting two. The Lady Panthers had three errors and left nine runners on base.
‘Our biggest downfall is our short game,’ Carver said. ‘We’re still working, working, working our short game. There’s a big issue there that we need to solve that we haven’t solved yet, but, like it being a big rival game, I’ll take the outcome, but I’d have liked to have had some more runs on the board.’
North Harrison managed just one hit in the seven innings, committed six errors and left two runners on base. Pitcher Lacie Smith struck out one, walked three and hit one batter.
‘Lacie Smith pitched a heck of a game,’ Oppel said. ‘The velocity was good and she hit her spots. We had a great plan coming in. If we turn that double play (in the bottom of the second inning) that we threw to first, this is a 2-0 ballgame. It’s all about the defense. We dropped the ball at first base that should have been caught, two balls to first base. You’ve just got to make plays.’
‘I don’t expect them to make any spectacular plays,’ he said. ‘I want to make every routine play. If we make all the routine plays, we’re going to win some ballgames, and we’re still going to win a lot of ballgames.’
Carver said his team’s talent allowed the Lady Panthers to take advantage of North Harrison’s mistakes.
‘I think that goes to our speed,’ he said. ‘I think our speed makes up for some of those adjustments when you make a mistake. We’re able to get that extra base. It helps out getting those runs that we got. I would have liked to have six more to be happy.’
Oppel said the team’s coaches and players will go back to practice and get better.
‘We’re going to practice in the morning, and we’ve already talked about the things we need to work on,’ he said. ‘It’s all defense.
‘I’ve always said this, even coaching it at (Indiana University Southeast), high school or my travel teams, I said, ‘Your hitting is not going to be there all the time. The hitting will not always be there. But guess what? Your defense can always be there.’ We had some balls that went over the infield where there was a lack of communication. We’ll work on all those things and get it right.’

North Harrison 001 010 0 ‘ 2 1 6
Corydon Central 030 010 x ‘ 4 7 3
W ‘ S. Oskin (3-3), L ‘ Smith (2-3).
Records: North Harrison 2-5, Corydon Central 4-3.

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