Cats run-rule South Spencer

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Jasper sophomore Erin Mehringer (18) sprints to third base during the first inning of Tuesday evening’s contest against South Spencer in Jasper. The Wildcats earned an 11-1 win in five innings.

By JIMMY LAFAKIS
jlafakis@dcherald.com

JASPER — As local softball teams enter the throes of spring, pitching and defense become quite crucial. Jasper (12-1) assembled an all-around effort during Tuesday evening’s five-inning contest against South Spencer.

Pitching and defense stood tall, but the Cats also mustered an ample supply of offense in their 11-1 run-rule of the Rebels.

“All year, I can look back at the box scores and see where a team has put up runs and we just answer,” Jasper head coach Matt Pryor said. “I’ve seen that over and over with this team. It shows a little grit with this team. They’re not just going to lay down. When a team punches, they punch back.”

The Cats needed to respond after South Spencer threw an early jab in the top of the first inning. The Rebels scratched across the game’s first run, but Jasper answered with three. Cats senior Hannah Schwenk doubled the lead with a sharp shot to center field.

Jasper forced the Rebels to make plays throughout the early innings. Hard ground balls and robust line drives widened the gap, and the Cats took advantage of six South Spencer errors in the contest.

A three-run second frame paved the path for a four-run third inning. Wild pitches and errors granted Jasper some additional insurance runs, but senior Kendyl Ruhe and junior Megan Matheis supplied some pop at the top of the order. Ruhe and Matheis added RBI singles to the hit parade.

The Cats’ offense provided plenty of run support for senior Mia Werner and junior Kylie Morton. Werner and Morton issued a combined two walks and teamed up for 10 strikeouts.

“They had a lot of different pitches working,” Pryor said. “It’s a whole different pitch selection, and I’ve got to remember which pitcher throws what. Mia can throw power and spin the ball well. Kylie can really get them out on their front foot and have them chasing for some pitches on the outside. She can jam them inside well. She has a nice ball that breaks on the outside — it’s pretty nice to have.”

South Spencer recorded just one hit in the game. Jasper scored the game’s final run on a fourth-inning passed ball, and Morton shut down the Rebels in the top of the fifth.

Jasper accumulated 13 hits in the win. Cats junior Kaitlynn Mendel ended the night with a perfect 3-for-3 performance. The Jasper community had additional reasons to be joyous, as the team celebrated Youth Night before the game.

“This community goes above and beyond to support its own,” Pryor said. “It encourages high school sports and sports in general. I just love tonight. I love Youth Night. There was a good crowd here for that. I’m sure the players love having them stand out there at their positions. It’s a special night for all of them — our team knows that they are role models for those little kids.”

Jasper is set to be back at it tonight at Boonville.

“It’s good to play them,” Pryor said. “They’re an absolutely quality team to play. They will challenge us. If we don’t bring our ‘A’ game, we will get beat.”




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