Rangers earn victory over Springs Valley

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Forest Park junior Ali Welp throws a pitch in the second inning of Monday evening’s game against Springs Valley in French Lick. The Rangers captured a 4-2 victory.


FRENCH LICK — As the evening sunset draped over Springs Valley High School on Monday, Forest Park (1-0) junior Ali Welp made a decision. Welp would not be denied during the Rangers’ 4-2 triumph over the Blackhawks.

The hurler opened Forest Park’s campaign with a dazzling complete game in the circle. The Blackhawks strung together some rallies, but Welp stifled substantial threats.

“Early on, it was strikeout after strikeout,” Forest Park head coach Kelly Schroering said. “It was big for her to be our leader.”

A pitcher’s duel unfolded in the first three innings. Both teams advanced runners to third base, but Welp found her stride early in the game. The contest remained scoreless after the first three frames. Eager to help her own cause, Welp ripped a deep drive to right field in the top of the fourth inning. She zipped around the bags and arrived at third base with a stand-up triple. Forest Park freshman Avery Riley knocked her in with a sharp RBI groundout.

“That was big because it got us on the board,” Schroering said. “Especially with how things have been, just getting on the board was important.”

Springs Valley scratched across a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The action moved along at a brisk pace, but Forest Park junior Madison Wathen added an additional jolt of excitement in the top of the fifth inning.

Wathen stole second, third and home in an eventful two-pitch trip around the bases. The insurance run gave Forest Park an additional advantage as the game moved to the final innings.

Rangers sophomore Carley Begle notched her own triple in the top of the sixth inning. That triple brought a run home, and junior Madi Begle added another tally on an error. A Springs Valley RBI single cut Forest Park’s lead to 4-2, but the Rangers made one last stand.

Down to their last at-bats, the Blackhawks loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning. Welp locked in and halted the two-out threat with a groundout. She finished her outing with eight strikeouts and just four hits scattered across her complete game.

“To make the play when it counted was critical and crucial,” Schroering said.

“The defense got her out of it. There were some innings where she had to pitch a little bit longer because we made some mistakes. In that inning, it was the defense that helped her out. That was huge and clutch for us.”

Shortly after Forest Park broke out of its huddle, Schroering and the Rangers celebrated with a unique activity — “victory sprints” in the outfield.

“The girls don’t love it,” Schroering said with a laugh. “It’s the source of pride of, ‘It’s something we’ve done. It’s not that hard. Hey, they’re victory sprints.’ ”

Forest Park will return at 6:30 p.m. at home on Thursday against Pocket Athletic Conference foe North Posey.

“It’s nice to have a game under our belt before we play them,” Schroering said. “I’ve heard good things about them. They’ll definitely be a strong team. We’ll be looking to see what we’ve got. It’s not sectional time now, but it always helps us to see those tough teams early on.”

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