Cats’ control permits easy recovery, savory result

Herald Sports Writer

JASPER — As Jessie Gudorf trotted around the bases, she arrived at a valuable conclusion.
Control is key.

Moments earlier, Gudorf tattooed an inside pitch that tore through the evening sunshine before smashing into the scoreboard in left field. With two runners on, the bomb awarded Jasper a five-run lead through two innings, which the Wildcats swelled with relentless hitting and indefatigable pitching to dismiss Loogootee 14-4 on Thursday’s senior night at the Jasper High School Softball Complex.

J. Gudorf

“It was just an inside pitch, and I love those. Just let it rip, relaxed, and it went over,” Gudorf said of the home run. “I realized you don’t have to use all your power to hit it over. You just have to hit solid and it goes.”

The same philosophy can also help explain how the Wildcats (12-7) continue to play so loosely, so freely, yet simultaneously with such brawn and explosion. As Jasper coach Matt Pryor explained, the tranquil tactics have sculpted a squad that, at the moment, seems incapable of tensing up.

“They’re not playing uptight,” Pryor said.

“I don’t feel like they’re putting much stress on themselves at all. They’re playing one pitch at a time, they know they’re going to make mistakes … but how quickly can I recover? And it seems like they’re recovering at a very rapid rate.”

It didn’t take long to witness.

After allowing a run in the opening frame, the Wildcats responded swiftly with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Paige Werner walked to follow Lindsay Baker’s double to left-center field, and a double steal moved both runners into scoring position for Gudorf. The junior proceeded to tear a two-run double down the left-field line, the first of her five RBIs. Samantha Gerber then poked a single up the middle to plate Gudorf.

The bat attack had begun.

H. Gudorf

The Wildcats scored in all six innings, including at least two in each of the first four frames. All but one of Jasper’s starting nine registered a hit, and all but one crossed the plate. Baker (2-for-3) and Emily Beckman (4-for-4 with a triple) each scored three times for Jasper, while seven Wildcats drove in at least one run apiece.

The communal contributions have developed into a focal point for the Wildcats, Gudorf said. It’s residual: Once one bat gets hot, the rest tend to promptly follow suit.

“One person does it, it just keeps going for the whole team and that vibe just keeps going. And it’s just awesome to be a part of that,” Gudorf said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all year. We get it started, we make our own opportunities happen, and good things will happen like they have.”

In their last two games, the Wildcats have amassed 26 runs on 28 hits. None was launched like Gudorf’s blast.

“She smoked the ball. She’s got some of the fastest hands that I’ve seen. And she’s going to turn on every single ball,” Pryor said. “As long as she trusts her swing and recovers quickly when she swings at bad pitches — she does have a bad habit of doing that — she’ll find one and that’s what happens.”

The junior’s pop aside, what stuck in Pryor’s mind was the steadfast approach his seniors took on their night. The five in the batting lineup collaborated for 11 of the Wildcats’ 15 hits and eight of their runs. Anicia Ashby notched an RBI double, Haley Gudorf drove in two before scampering into second base, Gerber brought home a run and scored once and Baker reached base in all four at-bats.

“From every position, they were in control,” Pryor said of his seniors. “Whether they were normal starters or not, they all contributed, and a lot of times you don’t get that with senior nights. Sometimes you need to pull them in order to get that win. But tonight, they weren’t going to let me do that.”

Neither was Keegan Katter (9-7), who recorded her third win against the Lions (5-10) in as many seasons.

Though Loogootee shook her up momentarily with three runs in the third inning to make it 6-4, Katter seemed to gain strength as the contest aged. The senior recorded two strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded jam in the third before retiring nine of the last 10 Lions in order, including four punchouts in the final two frames.

Despite not practicing on Tuesday because of a mild knee sprain she suffered from colliding with a teammate the previous day, Katter’s complete-game came as no surprise to Pryor, who said she “threw harder than any inning in that sixth.”

“There was no way she was going to stay out of this game,” he said.

What’s more, the senior guidance seems to have spread among other Wildcats as well, and not just from a production standpoint. The ease is almost contagious.

After Katie Krempp couldn’t resist swinging at a ball off the plate in her first at-bat, which eventually resulted in a strikeout, she simply smiled. The junior then proceeded to collect singles in her next two plate appearances and scored each time.

The turnaround evidenced the “shake it off, you’ll get the next one” attitude Jessie Gudorf said has become intrinsic among teammates.

“It makes everybody not have so much pressure on their backs,” she said.

“Sometimes when you make a mistake, you’re just like, ”˜Ugh.’ But having it and being confident just makes softball fun, like back when you were a kid.”

Contact Joe Jasinski at

More on