By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
ELNORA — Senior night is always an event packed with emotion, but this was different.
The North Daviess softball team (20-7) defeated Jasper 8-4 Friday night at North Daviess on a Senior Night that meant so much to the home team.
In addition to honoring senior infielders Larynda Keith and Ashley Troutman, the Cougars honored the late Samantha Porter. Porter was killed in an auto accident Sept 29 ‹ she was a two-year member of the softball team. Porter’s mother and brother, Shane were in attendance and took part in the ceremonies before the game.
The Wildcats jumped all over the Cougars in the first inning by scoring two runs on two hits against North Daviess starting pitcher Tailon Graber. North Daviess coach Jodi Berry thought the immense emotion prior to the first pitch impacted her team’s mindset.
“I’m going to chalk it up to emotions, because losing “Po” impacted the whole team,” Berry said. “It was just bringing it up and seeing her mom here, just brought everything back.”
The North Daviess bats were silent in the first inning, but they came alive in the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Alexis Reed hit a chopper towards Jasper shortstop Nicolette Eckert, but she misplayed the ball, allowing two runs to score. Keith followed that with an infield single to score Lora Kutch, and Graber added an RBI single to left, and the Cougars had a 4-2 lead.
“I was very pleased with the way we came out swinging the bats in the second inning,” Berry said. “We scored all those runs on two outs and that¹s huge when the bottom of our lineup is coming out and swinging in the stick.”
The Cougars added two more runs in the third on RBI singles from Reed and Keith to push the lead to 6-2.
In the fifth inning, Ashley Troutman singled to leftfield to score Reed and Keith to give the Cougars complete control of the game.
“You don’t want to send a team away thinking if we could have just shut them down in one inning - you want to leave a mark every inning to make them realize that you’re on,” Berry said. “We did that more consistently tonight than we have in a while. Scoring in three innings is better than scoring in one.”
Graber went the distance, allowing six hits and four runs, while striking out three. At one point between the first and fourth innings, she retired eight consecutive Jasper batters.
The players were not the only ones that were emotional during the pregame ceremonies and throughout the night. Losing seniors each year to graduation is tough on any coach, but the loss of Porter also had an impact on Berry.
“There have been emotions all year, especially with the juniors and the seniors that were so close to Po,” Berry said. “Coming in they were determined that not only did they want to win it for themselves, but they want to win it for Po. When they found out that Po’s mom and brother were going to come out here tonight to participate it made them happy and at the same time it made them more determined to get out with a win.”
Jasper 200 001 1 ¬ 4 6 2
North Daviess 042 020 x ¬ 8 12 1
Graber and Knepp; Katter and Gudorf. W-Graber L-Katter. 2B: (J) Gudorf.