Rivalry win makes dedication special

Matthew Busch/The Herald
The Southridge softball team took the field in between innings Friday night in Huntingburg, where the team dedicated its new softball complex. Southridge began its new era with a 7-5 win against county rival Forest Park, breaking a 5-all tie with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. For more photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

HUNTINGBURG — Friday night wasn’t easy for the Southridge softball team.

Then again, it wasn’t supposed to be. The Raiders dedicated their new field, and instead of scheduling an overmatched opponent that would have allowed them to relax the entire night and bask in their new digs, they instead invited county and Pocket Athletic Conference rival Forest Park to the new facility.


It was a battle.

Southridge prevailed 7-5, but only after coming back twice from early deficits and then breaking a 5-all tie after Forest Park knotted the game in the sixth inning.

“That’s why we picked Forest Park, for that reason, because they’re a great rivalry,” Southridge coach Stephanie Fleck said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and I’m very proud of the girls.

“That’s why we picked (Forest Park), because we wanted to show the community what this team is made of and I thought it was definitely a great game to start off for this first game on this field.”

The feeling was mutual.

“Very nice facility,” Forest Park coach Glenn Knies said. “I have to hand it to Southridge, this is a nice ballpark. It’s nice to play here, I’m privileged that they allowed us to be the first official game here. … I’m impressed with the facility. They’ve done everything the way a softball field should be built.”

Southridge (2-2, 1-1) scored the two decisive runs in the sixth inning, when Kendyl Dearing led off with a single and scored and Alli Bounds tripled two batters later. Shelby Kippenbrock then drove in Bounds with a single.

Dearing (1-0) pitched the final two innings for the victory and also finished 4-for-4 at the plate with three singles and a run-scoring triple in the second inning.

“It was all relaxing,” Dearing said of her approach. “When I woke up this morning, I felt good about it. When I got to the plate, I let everything out of my mind and I focused on the ball and just relaxed and did my thing and it worked out for me tonight.”

Ericka Lange (1-1) pitched all six innings for the Rangers (1-1, 0-1). She didn’t record any strikeouts, but instead kept the Raiders off-balance, forcing them into a host of soft liners and pop-ups.

Kayla Smith smacked an RBI triple and then scored on a passed ball in the first inning for Forest Park, which briefly took a 3-2 lead in the third when Emily Weisman drew a bases-loaded walk. That brought home Smith, who finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Megan Stapleton, who pitched the middle three innings for Southridge after Bounds tossed the first two, then tallied one of her three stikeouts as the Rangers left the bases loaded in the third.

Amanda Lange notched an RBI single in the fifth for Forest Park, which tied the game in the sixth off an error; each team committed four miscues, and Forest Park allowed a few extra baserunners on fielder’s choices after looking back runners and firing late to first base.

“That first and second inning, we were focused at the plate and focused on defense,” Knies said, “but as the game went on, we lost our focus in both areas.”

Specifically, Knies said, the Rangers began swinging at pitches they should have let go and compounded the problem by taking good pitches. The Rangers stranded 13 runners, including 10 through the first four inning.

Conversely, the Raiders made sure this was going to be a night they wanted to remember, for good reasons.

With Southridge trailing 3-2 in the third, Bounds doubled and Kippenbrock singled, and both scored later in the frame on a throwing error. Then in the fifth inning, Stapleton singled and scored on another error to give Southridge a 5-4 lead that stood until Forest Park scored on a Southridge error a half-inning later.

The seesaw contest took place in front of a crowd sandwiched around the backstop and dugout areas, giving everyone a good view. Southridge alums returned to watch the game. With a full parking lot that would make somebody believe a concert was taking place, the night unfolded about as good as imaginable for the Raiders and their teams.

Most importantly, they shared it with the people who helped make it happen.

“Playing in this facility means a lot, not just to me but for this community and for everyone who put a lot of hard work and time to make this happen,” Fleck said. “The girls played great, they played with a lot of heart today.”

“Props to Forest Park for playing such a great game with us,” Dearing added. “We definitely both played our hearts out and I just can’t explain how happy I am with my team.”

Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com.

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