Down-and-dirty Cats start with spunk

Heather Rousseau/The Herald
Jasper’s Abby Libbert slid safely into third base as Northeast Dubois’ Michelle Seitz prepared for a throw to the bag Thursday evening in Dubois. Libbert was one of nine Wildcats who scored a run in Jasper’s 10-0 blanking of the Jeeps. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By JOSEPH FANELLI
Herald Sports Writer

DUBOIS — The Jasper softball team’s warmup begins like almost every other squad.
The Wildcats take the field, they run through some fielding drills, throw to first, throw to second, and so on.

But then things get a bit messy.

In what resembles a basketball defensive drill, coach Matt Pryor stands in front of home plate with a softball in hand and waves it left or right as the infielders dive in the corresponding direction. They’ll do that three to four times, then Pryor tosses the ball up for an infielder and the team trots back toward the dugout.

The Cats are covered in dirt before the first pitch.

“I’m sure the moms don’t like it because (the girls) automatically get the jerseys dirty, but I know (the girls) love it,” Pryor said with a laugh.

Dirty laundry or not, it appears the pregame tradition is here to stay. The “pump-up drill,” as senior Katie Krempp calls it, is as much about honing technique as building psyche, and it worked on Thursday evening as the Cats jumped to an early lead and never looked back in a 10-0 shutout at county neighbor Northeast Dubois.

“We have a problem with diving and catching ourselves so that’s kind of a way just before the game (to work on that),” Krempp explained of the pregame drill. “It’s kind of exhausting, but we do it then (Pryor) throws the ball and then we’re ready to go.”

Pryor calls the drill a “Jasper trademark,” and he said it goes back as far as 10 years, although no one quite knows how it began. Now, the Cats won’t let Pryor end the 10-minte warmup without it.

Krempp


“We like getting dirty,” Krempp said with a laugh.

It seems to be effective. Jasper (4-1) has scored in the first two innings of every contest except one — the team’s only loss against Heritage Hills on Tuesday — and has recorded two or fewer errors in all but one contest; again against the Patriots.

They pounced on the Jeeps (0-2) in the first when Nicolette Eckert led off with a triple and then scored on an error. Katelyn Hedinger added another run with a double to the warning track, scoring Olivia Burger for a 2-0 lead.

Jasper added another run in the fourth, but even though pitcher Jasmine Seitz (2-1) continually befuddled Northeast Dubois — the senior yielded just two hits while striking out four in a complete-game shutout — a lull in the Cats’ bats had Pryor concerned about the 3-0 lead. Five reserves pinch-hit for the Cats, replacing Jasper’s starters who Pryor thought were trying too hard to blast Jeep pitcher Carly Terwiske.

“I thought we were kind of selfish (at the plate) for a while,” Pryor said. “A lot of us were swinging out of our shoes. ... Those first two, three innings, I think we had six or seven flyouts and those are just outs.

“We’ve got four or five young ladies that are eager to get into this ballgame and I had confidence that (they’d) get the bat on the ball, too, so we cleared the bench tonight. Everybody played. Everybody hit.”

After tallying just three hits in innings two through five, Jasper racked up five in the sixth inning alone, elevating the lead to 8-0 with RBIs from Krempp, Maddie Sellers and Eckert (3-for-4 with two RBIs).

That inning was enough to bury the Jeeps, who moved just two runners past first base. Three Northeast Dubois errors resulted in three runs and the Jeeps’ most impressive defensive play — a diving snag by Taryn Friedman in shallow center — was ruled a drop. That runner went on to score.

Jasper’s Katelyn Hedinger, right, slapped hands with Maddie Sellers after Sellers scored during the sixth inning of the Wildcats’ 10-0 shutout win Thursday at Northeast Dubois.


“We put the bat on the ball. We had key opportunities on second base a couple of times,” Jeep coach Larry Wineinger said. “You know, you keep the game close is what I tell (the players). You never know what’s going to happen in the last couple of innings, and we kept it close until the fifth or sixth.”

The Jeeps can find solace in that, outside of the sixth, they remained a threat for the majority of the ballgame — even with a freshman pitcher throwing her first varsity game. Terwiske gave up only one earned run on five hits through the first five innings.

The Jeeps can also cross out what Wineinger said may be their two toughest matchups of the entire season in Jasper and last week’s opener against Heritage Hills. Either way, Wineinger isn’t sweating the loss.

“Little things here and there, but we’re young. We’re going to come around. It’s a long season,” he said.

Even with the win, that same learning curve applies for Jasper. There was the early batting angst Pryor mentioned, as well as a baserunning miscue that resulted in an out. But when everything else isn’t jelling, Jasper can always rely on its defense, which Pryor said is good now, but he’s excited to see what the Cats can accomplish in the future.

“We know that individually they can play these spots well,” Pryor said. “Well, now let’s play as a group with balls that are in between — the communication aspect. That needs to still continue to get better, and when that gets better, we’ll be very happy with our defense.”

Contact Joseph Fanelli




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com