Times Sports Editor
When your team is struggling to find the win column, sometimes a little shake up is just what the squad needs. That strategy worked perfectly for the Northview softball team on Thursday night as it bounced back from back-to-back losses to pin a 6-3 loss on visiting Mooresville.
The Knights shifted their lineup a bit and used a 10-hit offensive attack and the three-hit pitching of Alyssa Conrad to score the win against a potential sectional opponent.
"She did a really good job," Northview coach Bethany Jones said of Conrad. "The last couple of innings she was getting behind in the count, but she was able to mix up her speeds tonight. She let her defense help her out and we had some very strong defense tonight."
Conrad allowed just one hit through five innings and kept the Pioneers off balance for most of the evening while posting the victory.
Coming off losses to Terre Haute South and Brown County, Jones moved Conrad to the lead-off spot in the lineup and bumped Taylor Carter into the No. 3 hole. The strategy helped spark an opportunistic Knights' offense.
The second frame was a much different story however.
After Lauren Webster popped up to lead off the inning, Kylie McKee reached with a base hit to leftfield. Kindra Cox, a new addition to the varsity lineup, followed by reaching on an error when her bunt attempt led to a dropped throw at first base. Nicole Nelson sacrificed both runners into scoring position before Conrad helped her cause with an RBI single.
Mooresville's defensive lapses weren't over as Raven Enders reached when her infield grounder was bobbled by the shortstop and her hustle allowed her to reach first safely as Cox scored. Carter then stepped to the plate and lofted a flyball that was dropped for a second error by the shortstop as Conrad crossed the plate for a 3-0 lead.
"We've really been struggling with mental toughness. Last night (at practice) we worked on that and basically sat down and talked about what we had to do to fix our confidence and our mental game," Jones said regarding her team's focus. "I think that helped (the team) come out tonight more focused and with more motivation to play the game."
Conrad kept the lead safe until her team added some insurance in the fifth inning as Enders reached on an error before scampering home on a ringing double by Carter. LaTourette hit a grounder to third base and reached as Carter was hung up in a rundown. The Pioneers made another mistake as the throw to get Carter at third base was dropped and both runners were safe on the play. The Knights made the bobble pay off as Sarah Phillips loaded the bases on a single and McKee blooped a single to center to score Carter. Cox then hit an RBI grounder to push the lead to 6-0.
The No. 3 spot in the lineup suited Carter well on Thursday with three hits in four at-bats as she reached base all four times.
"We messed with the lineup a little bit and Taylor did her job of coming in and getting some RBI's for us and she had a real nice game at bat," Jones said of the freshman.
Conrad's only blip on an otherwise sterling, pitching outing was in the sixth inning when the Knights' lone error helped spark a three-run rally.
Pinch hitter, Courtney Everman reached on an error on her infield grounder and Aerial Clark smacked a single for the Pioneers. Conrad then struck out LeeDa Allen before coaxing Maurer to hit into a fielder's choice grounder for the second out of the inning. Mooresville didn't let Northview off the hook as a walk loaded the bases to set up Taylor Chitwood for a bases clearing double.
Conrad got out of the inning without any more damage and then shut the door in the final frame for the victory.
The Knights improve to 6-4 overall with the victory and travel to Jasper for a two-day tourney beginning this evening.
2B -- Nv (Carter), Mv (Chitwood).