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Brownstown handles Lady Cats, 12-1

Blackburn gets 400th K
Brownstown handles Lady Cats, 12-1
Brownstown handles Lady Cats, 12-1
North Harrison pitcher Ashton Blackburn records her 400th strikeout during the Lady Cats’ game against visiting Brownstown. The Lady Braves won the day, however, 12-1. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The North Harrison girls’ softball team took a hard fall Thursday afternoon on Senior Day when the visiting Brownstown Central Lady Braves came to Ramsey and gave the Lady Cats a royal beat down. The Lady Cats fell below the .500 mark for the season, to 9-10, while the Lady Braves improved their season to 11-6 in a Mid-Southern Conference contest.

“We haven’t been playing to our full potential the last couple of games,” said North Harrison coach Haley Book. “We’ve kind of hit a little bit of a slope. They know what they need to work on, and we’re going to come back and practice hard tomorrow.”

Both teams scored in the first inning. In the top of the first, Erin Singleton hit a first-pitch single and stole second. Kelsey Schneider also hit on safely with an infield single. Two outs later Singleton scored on a North Harrison passed ball. Schneider moved to third on the play, then Addyson Coomer walked and stole second. Neither scored after that, but Brownstown Central had a 1-0 lead.

Chloee Shewmaker led off for the Lady Cats in the bottom of the inning with a single and later stole second with two outs. Andrea Ness followed with a single that scored Shewmaker, and the score was 1-1.

The top of the second inning went bad for the Lady Cats. With one out, Brownstown Central got three straight singles by Rylin Huddleston, Zoe Stuckwisch and Erin Singleton, with Huddleston scoring on the latter hit. Schneider loaded the bases on a North Harrison error. Alli Reynolds belted a sacrifice fly scoring Stuckwisch. Rylee May singled scoring Schneider and Singleton. A second error allowed Coomer to first. Regan Stuckwisch singled for two more runs, and the Lady Braves had a 7-1 lead.

“Their intensity needs to be higher, and the grit and confidence,” said Book. “We tell them all season long find your swag. Those are all just mental things.”

The next 2-1/2 innings went scoreless then, in the top of the fifth, the Lady Braves exploded again, this time for five runs. Abby Stuckwisch walked then came three straight singles by Huddleston, Stuckwisch and Erin Singleton, who got an RBI when courtesy runner Emily Singleton scored.

Schneider grounded out but scored courtesy runner Adelynn Anderson. Stuckwisch scored on a passed ball to Reynolds, then a North Harrison error allowed Reynolds to first and second with Erin Singleton scoring on the play. Payton Ault followed that with a double to score Reynolds, and the Lady Braves’ lead ballooned to 12-1.

North Harrison got two base runners on in the bottom of the inning with hopes of continuing the game but failed to convert. Brownstown Central got the 12-1 win.

“They’re not lacking any athletic ability,” said Book. “That’s not the problem. They have all of the tools to be a successful team.”

The Lady Cats finished with four hits for the five innings, had three errors and left three runners on base. The bright spot for the game was Ashton Blackburn’s four strikeouts, the last one giving her a major milestone of 400 Ks.

“Ashton has been working her tail off all four years,” Book said. “She’s done a great job for this program She’s been a huge leader for this program. For her to hit the 400th K mark is a huge deal for her. It only boosts her confidence and boosts the team’s confidence. They have a great leader on the mound, and I’m very proud of that.”

Blackburn said reaching that goal wasn’t easy, especially when last season was called off because of the COVID-19 pandemic and she thought her goal was out of sight.

“It’s really hard,” said the North Harrison senior. “I’ve been working on it a lot. All I can say is I’ve put a lot of work in, and I couldn’t do it without my amazing catcher Chloee (Shewmaker) and my teammates having my back. I have an awesome coach that helps me when I’m doing something wrong.”

“I set goals my freshman year of what I wanted to get and, when we didn’t have a season, I thought, ‘Well, I’m not going to get it’,” she said. “But I ended up still getting it. My dad has been keeping track of it, so I had four more left he told me before this game. My goal was to get at least four this game, and it’s cool that it was on Senior Night, too.”

Both Blackburn and Book said the Lady Cats are going to have to get their intensity levels back up to be able to make a run in the upcoming state tournament.

“These next couple of weeks we’re going to have to really grind at practice,” Blackburn said. “We’re going to have to really focus in because when we get unfocused is when we have games like this. When we really focus in and we’re confident and have each others’ backs is when we play to our full potential. I’m excited.”

“Just go back to the basics and make sure we’re doing all of the small things right, have high intensity and find our swag and find our confidence,” said Book. “It really just comes down to basic softball, doing small things on the field and up at the plate. I told them I sound like a broken record, but they have all of the potential in the world and they have to realize for themselves that once that clicks we’re going to make a good run.”

Brownstown Central       160   05 – 12   13   0

North Harrison                 100   00 –   1     4   3

W-Huddleston, L-Blackburn; 1B-Singleton (B) 3, Schneider (B) 2, Shewmaker (NH), Ness (NH), Huddleston (B) 3, Stuckwisch (B) 3, May (B), Smith (NH), Schuley (NH); 2B-Ault.