Cats capture run-rule victory over Jeeps

Photos by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Jasper softball players celebrate after Thursday evening's contest against Northeast Dubois in Jasper. The Wildcats earned a 12-2 victory over the Jeeps in five innings.


JASPER — Northeast Dubois (2-3) and Jasper (6-0) kicked off Thursday evening’s county rivalry game with some sharp knocks across the diamond. Once the third inning rolled around, both teams’ bats produced a flurry of runs.

The pivotal frame set the tone for the five-inning contest, and Jasper ultimately prevailed in a 12-2 affair. The Cats tallied five runs in the third inning, two runs in the fourth and the final five in the fifth.

“Even out of the gate, we hit line drives,” Jasper head coach Matt Pryor said. “We just hit them right at them. The bats were alive right away.”

Jasper overcame an early 2-0 deficit. Northeast Dubois applied some early pressure in the top of the third inning — sophomore Rhylan Kalb knocked a hard RBI single into center field before freshman Kelli Merkel added another run with a groundout.

Cats junior Kennedy Matheis responded with her own RBI single in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Hannah Schwenk’s two-run triple into right field set the table for some run-scoring small ball. Jasper seniors Kendyl Ruhe and Kylie Patterson laid down a duo of bunts, and Jasper entered the fourth inning with a 5-2 advantage.

Eager to give herself some run support, Jasper senior Mia Werner ripped a two-run single into right field in the bottom of the fourth inning. The productive at-bat helped the Cats rack up their second consecutive double-digit hit total — Jasper accumulated 15 hits in Wednesday's 8-3 win over Barr-Reeve and notched 13 hits on Thursday.

“I could tell that they were ready to play tonight,” Pryor said. “They were hungry to hit. They started hitting the ball really well last night. They had double-digit hits, and they had double-digit hits tonight. Every single one of them is eager to be in the hole, to be on deck and get in the box. They want to be up at the plate. They’re not in the dugout hoping that it’s not their turn. Every one of them is wanting to be in that big moment — batters one through nine.”

The fifth inning moved along at a swift pace. The Jeeps looked to rally, but the Cats knocked in five quick runs in their half of the inning. Patterson and sophomore Hillary Springer paved a path for Werner and junior Megan Matheis to supply the game-clinching runs.

“The upperclassmen have set the tone,” Pryor said. “If you’re going to be in this dugout, there’s expectations. There were expectations that the upperclassmen put on them. If they didn’t meet them, they got out of the dugout. The younger players are starting to rise to the challenge of what it takes to be in the dugout. In the dugout, it’s a job. They’ve got jobs to do in there, whether it’s charting pitches or charting hits and spray charts. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in there, which means we need a lot of people working.”

Northeast Dubois freshman Brooklyn Kiefer (14) makes a catch during Thursday evening's contest against Jasper in Jasper. The Jeeps took a 12-2 loss in five innings.

Werner struck out six batters and scattered just three hits across five innings. Kalb, Merkel and junior Hadley Fuhrman finished with a hit apiece for Northeast Dubois.

“There were good things to take away from it,” Jeeps head coach Dion Terwiske said. “We’re just making too many mistakes yet. Jasper is obviously better than us, and we got beat by a good team. We’re just trying to keep the girls pointed in the right direction and not let one hiccup define us. Obviously, it wasn’t what we wanted. It wasn’t that terrible, either. I’m just trying to keep my young pitchers with their heads in the right places so they don’t get down on it. You don’t want to see a score like that, but you take away the good that you can. We’ll work on what we need to work on.”

Northeast Dubois returns for an 11 a.m. game Saturday morning against Eastern Greene in Dubois.

“The season rolls on,” Terwiske said. “You take your lumps like this. You get better and keep playing. I told them, ‘Don’t dwell on it. It’s not a big deal. Forget about it.’”

Jasper will play a 5:30 p.m. game Tuesday evening at Southridge.

“The stands were packed tonight,” Pryor said. “It was a good crowd. I’m very excited to play all of our county-school teams. It’s an early night for all the fans, whether you’re on the road at home. The fans love it because they’re home before it gets dark. It’s just nice to play these county games.”

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