Wildcats top Raiders, teams seek improvement

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
The Jasper Wildcats huddle around Madison Allen after she hit a home run during Tuesday's softball game in Huntingburg. Jasper defeated Southridge 9-4 as the Wildcats handed the Raiders their first loss of the season. For more photos from the game, click here.



HUNTINGBURG — Sometimes good just isn’t good enough. That seemed to be the theme in Jasper’s post game huddle which was filled with long faces after the Wildcats defeated the Southridge Raiders 9-4 on Tuesday evening.

Wildcat head coach Matt Pryor once again had lukewarm feelings when it came to the team’s fourth win of the season. Most of his concerns were addressed towards the team’s hitting, as he felt that some players weren’t as aggressive as they should have been when there were runners in scoring position. Pryor made a lot of substitutions throughout the game, and he hopes that those shifts sent a message to his players, especially the starters.

“I don’t think we took a step forward tonight by any means,” he said. “A win’s a win, but we had too many of our starters make silly mistakes, giving them free outs. We pulled a lot of players pretty early because they didn’t get the job done. They need to know that if they can’t get the job done, someone else will.”

Junior center fielder Lexie Jerger started Jasper (5-3) off with a lead off walk, and would eventually be driven in by a single from junior second baseman Grace Colvin for the Wildcats first run of the evening. They would quickly add a second run when Colvin scored on a fielding error at shortstop after a hit from junior designated player Madison Mathies.

But Southridge (3-1) wasted no time in answering back. Senior third baseman Amanda Brewer led off the bottom of the first with a double, to which sophomore shortstop Kennedy Nalley followed up with another double to drive in Brewer and cut the lead to 2-1. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Raiders would get to the Wildcats on the evening.

With one out in the top of second senior first baseman Madison Allen cracked a homerun off Raiders senior starter Lydia Genet which also brought in senior third baseman Rachel Gress, who drew a walk during her plate appearance, for a 4-1 Wildcats lead.

Jasper would score four more runs in the next inning to strengthen their hold on the game. The first would come from sophomore right fielder Hannah Schwenk who doubled and brought in junior designated player Madison Mathies. Next up would be Gress as she hit another double to bring in Schwenk. Following a single from senior left fielder Taylor Mitchell, Allen brought more thunder with her bat as she hit the third double of the inning to bring in Gress and Mitchell, putting the Wildcats up 8-1. Jasper scored their final run in the fourth inning, as a fielding error from senior second baseman Macie Marley allowed Gress to drive in sophomore courtesy runner Kendyl Ruhe.

To their credit, the Raiders never stopped playing the game. Following the Wildcats’ four-run outburst in the top of the third inning, Nalley clocked a triple to drive in Brewer for the Raiders’ second run of the game. Southridge struck once again in the bottom of the fifth inning as a single for sophomore center fielder Maddie Songer drove in Brewer for her third run of the game. They scored one final run in the bottom of the sixth, as senior left fielder Peyton Nalley managed a base hit to bring in junior pinch hitter Kolby Jones, which made it a 9-4 game at that point. But the hill was too steep to climb for the Raiders, as they would go on to take their first loss of the season.

Sophomore starter Mia Werner pitched five innings for four hits, three runs (two earned), two walks and five strikeouts. Colvin finished the last two innings with two hits, one earned run, and two strikeouts. Allen finished 3-for-4 with the homer and four RBIs. Gress, Schwenk, and Colvin each also had one run batted in.

“This season I haven’t been hitting the best, so last couple of practices I’ve been adjusting my swing,” said Allen. “I saw it was coming inside and I just drove it to left field.”

Genet pitched two-and-a-third innings for seven hits, eight runs (seven earned), three walks, and three strikeouts. Sophomore Briley King finished the game with four hits, one run, two walks, and five strikeouts. Nalley finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Songer and senior left fielder Peyton Nalley each drove in a run.

Southridge's Gina Flores, left, Kolby Jones, and Kennedy Nalley watch anxiously during pregame warmups at Tuesday's softball game against Jasper in Huntingburg. For more photos from the game, click here.

“We gave them so many opportunities to score,” said Kennedy Nalley. “We made errors and walked a lot of people, so they took advantage of our mistakes. We couldn’t make up for it.”

Pryor said he undersands that mistakes will be made at the plate and in the field, but he doesn't want his team to get down on themselves and let that affect other parts of their game. He felt that was the case at times on Tuesday and he wants the girls to get back on a more positive track so the can move forward as a team.

"Errors are going to happen. As long as the effort's there, that's part of the game," he said. "How quickly can you recover and not let it snowball? Have some poise, hold yourself accountable and just move on. Have a short term memory."

Raiders coach Scott Buening put the loss in perspective, saying it was good for the team to play a game like this experience how the mistakes they have been making can come back to bite them. What’s important is that the girls turn the page and clean up the mistakes they made so they don’t give opponents more chances in the game than they’ve earned moving forward.

“I thought it was a game of lost opportunity,” he said. “Early on it’s great to play a team as good as Jasper is that’s going to make you pay when you make those mistakes. We didn’t play as well as we’d like to tonight, we have to reflect tonight and look at the extra opportunities we gave them with walks and errors, and we have to cut those down. Tomorrow night we’ll keep working and hopefully play a little better.”

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