By Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — LOOGOOTEE — In the game of softball, a good offensive attack doesn’t always mean the number of hits you can record, but rather the patience you can show at the plate.
Loogootee used a big second inning to defeat Washington 16-6 in six innings due in part to the Hatchets’ inability to find the strike zone consistently in the early innings.
After the Hatchets left the bases loaded to end the top of the first, Loogootee capitalized on an inability to find the strike zone from Washington. In the bottom of the inning, the Lions scored three runs on zero hits thanks to three walks and two hit batters. The Lions scored on a hit by pitch and walk with the bases loaded and a wild pitch.
The Hatchets, however, didn’t hang their heads. Washington bounced back with three runs on three hits to tie the game in the top of the second. Leslie Fleetwood scored from third on a dropped third strike and White and Charity Graber provided RBI singles for the Hatchets.
In the bottom of the second, Lauren White struggled to find consistency in the strike zone. The first three Loogootee batters reached on a walk, and leadoff hitter Paige Walton scored on a wild pitch to give the Lions the 4-3 lead. The Lions had drawn six walks, but still hadn’t recorded a hit. Kelsy Seals turned that around in a hurry. Seals hit a three-run homer over the left field fence to give the Lions a 7-3 lead. After an Emma Graber walk, White was lifted for pitcher Ashley Elliott, who went the rest of the way.
“It was just one of those nights as a pitcher — mechanics — that’s one thing we keep telling our pitchers is keep an eye on your mechanics,” said Washington coach Bret Graber. “We have a lot of girls who have not thrown that many innings and that’s what we’re working on. As I told them, every night is like a classroom. I’m trying to teach them and our end result is when we take the final test in the sectional to see if we have improved any from the first game to the last game.”
Loogootee scored four more runs in the inning after White exited on an RBI single from Taylor Kaiser, a groundout and a two-run single from Waylee Wagoner to push the lead to 11-3 after two innings. Despite only recording two hits — both in the second inning — Loogootee coach Greg Clark was pleased with the Lions’ approach at the plate.
“Early in the game you want to talk about patience and making sure you’re seeing strikes and making sure you are hitting the pitch you want to hit,” Clark said. “We were patient waiting on the pitches we wanted to drive.”
Over the next three innings, the Loogootee offense was held scoreless by Elliott, who allowed just three hits in that span, while striking out three. Elliott’s strong pitching gave the Hatchets a chance to try to make a comeback from the eight-run deficit. In the top of the fourth, Washington cut the Loogootee lead to 11-4 on an RBI groundout from Rayven Graber and in the top of the sixth, White connected on a two-run homer over the left field fence to cut the deficit to 11-6.
“It was nice to see us get aggressive at the plate,” Graber said. “The thing about softball, is you can’t let pitchers get into their best pitches and that’s one thing we’ve been talking about our kids about.”
The Lions finished off the Hatchets with a five-run inning to finish the game early. Taylor Hayes had a two-run single and Seals added two more RBIs to finish with a game-high five on a two-run double.
“We have been hitting the ball fairly well and I wouldn’t say we had a lot of hits (tonight), but I think we were very patient seeing the ball especially in the early innings,” Clark said. “You have to adapt as the game moves along and we have Princeton tomorrow and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”