Clay City bats, defense chilly in season opener
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- Chilly temperatures greeted the Clay City Eels in their season opener on the road against West Vigo on Tuesday night and the Vikings proved to be rude hosts in claiming a 9-2 victory over the Eels.
The Vikings got off to a quick start offensively as Clay City sent freshman Whitney Jeffers to the circle for her high school debut against a stout hitting West Vigo squad that pounded out 25 hits in a doubleheader loss to Princeton over the weekend.
Speedy senior Alycyn Woodward got things started quickly for West Vigo, reaching via an infield single and then stealing second base. With one out, Ciara McClain drove the first run home with a triple to the centerfield wall and then came home herself on a double by Leslee Walters. A single by Cassidy Carlson snuck through to move Walters to third. Kenzie Little loaded the bases on a bunt that didn't draw a throw and the next two runs crossed thanks to some shaky defense.
Walters scored on a passed ball and Carlson put the Vikings up 4-0 on a groundout
Opening jitters might have been to blame for several Eels as four freshmen started the game as two experienced returnees from last year's squad didn't have enough practices to play in the game.
"We've got a lot of different girls in different positions. We had two starters that couldn't play tonight because of IHSAA rules," Clay City coach Roger Rhodes said. "After the first few innings we kind of settled down, but you know how softball is, you get down three or four runs, it's hard to come back."
The lead grew to 7-0 in the second inning as Woodward led off the inning by reaching on an error at shortstop and she moved to second on the play as no one covered second base on the play. Ciara McClain brought Woodward home on a groundout, but a hit-by-pitch, an error on an infield popup, a second hit batter and a single that scooted through the infield added up to a three-run outburst in the frame.
"This is learning for us, the first few games," Rhodes said. "We've got some players we're looking at in positions that might change. We've got some spots we need to fill and the big thing is that we had a couple of our veterans that weren't out there tonight. I'm not using that as an excuse, but that does make a difference."
Woodward, who had gone 12-for-13 at the plate heading into the game against the Eels, reached base to lead off the third frame with a walk, stole second once more and scored on an RBI single by Jacy McClain. An infield hit by Carlson and an error on the throw led to the ninth run of the game and the contest looked to be set for an early end due to the 10-run rule.
However, Clay City settled in and tallied two of its own runs in the fourth inning.
Abby Reed led off the inning with an infield single and Madison Booe ripped a double to move Reed to third base. Jeffers then helped her own cause by smacking a two-run single to right-centerfield.
Jeffers also settled down in the pitching circle as well, holding West Vigo hitless over the final three innings, with three strikeouts. However, the Eels' offense wasn't able to mount its own comeback.
Alex Wolfe reached on a base hit in the seventh inning and freshman Chelsea Finchum walked, but Sam Porter, who relieved Woodward in the circle, got Ali Souder to ground out to end the game.
"Whitney (Jeffers) pitched a good game," Rhodes said. "They only had, what I call, two hits."
Woodward held Clay City to four hits over six innings of work while striking out seven Eels to get the victory and improve to 1-2 overall.
While Rhodes acknowledged the slow start in the season opener, he was also quick to point out where he sought improvement.
"I don't mind the errors, but it's the hustle. We've got to pick it up a notch," Rhodes said.
The Eels (0-1 overall) are back on the road Thursday evening against Rockville at 5 p.m.
At West Vigo
2B -- CC (Booe), WV (Walters). 3B -- CC (None), WV (C.McClain). SB -- CC (None), WV (Woodward 2, Akers).
|Jeffers (L, 0-1)||6.0||9||8||1||3|
|Woodward (W, 1-2)||6.0||2||4||0||7|