Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- Capturing a conference title has been a goal for the Clay City softball team since the season began and the Eels took another step toward a Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference trophy with a 9-1 thumping of North Central on Monday.
Coach Jason Sinders agreed that his team played better in the field than it has in its losses this season.
"Defensively is what kind of hurts us. The games we've lost, we've hit the ball well, we just couldn't make plays," Sinders said. "If you don't make plays you aren't going to beat anybody good. North Central is a good team, we were just fortunate to put the balls in the holes tonight."
In fact, Clay City found those openings in the North Central defense with line drives starting in the first inning trailing 1-0.
Shaya Stevenson singled and moved to second on a wildpitch to set the table for Madison Booe, who blasted an RBI double. Maria Walton followed with a drive to leftfield that went for two bases and brought home Booe for a 2-1 Eels' lead. Abby Reed followed suit with another double to bring home pinch runner Nicole Ledgerwood.
"Any time you hit the ball things seem to go well and the smiles come on and they get relaxed and they start playing ball," Sinders said. "I've said all year that we're very capable of hitting top to bottom. If we can get them all going like that I think we will be alright."
The T-Birds had their chances to get back in the game, putting two runners on base in the second and third innings, but the Eels escaped both jams.
Rachel Croft reached on a two-out single in the second and Jenessa Clouse was scored with a single though Croft was the third out via runner interference to end the threat. In the third, a single by Laynee Street and a double by Grace Caddell with two outs could have meant trouble for the Eels. However, pitcher Whitney Jeffers struck out Danielle Thomas for the third out.
Overall, North Central left nine runners on base, but Jeffers got stronger as the game went on, not allowing a base runner over the final three innings.
Clay City made sure that their pitcher had plenty of wiggle room as the offense pushed three more runs across the plate in the fourth inning with two outs.
Stevenson walked, Emmie Kittle singled and Booe drilled an RBI double to centerfield. Walton reached on an error by the shortstop that brought home both Kittle and Booe as the throw got away from the catcher.
The Eels added two more runs in the fifth as Jeffers brought home Allie Miller with an RBI single and Stevenson drove home Jeffers with a base hit.
The final run scored on Booe's third double of the game as Walton drove her home with the 13th hit of the game for Clay City.
"One of our goals this season was to really hit the conference hard," Sinders said of the Eels, now 3-0 in the SWIAC. "Any time you finish well in the conference you get all-conference players and that makes things nice for everybody."
The Eels (7-5 overall, 3-0 SWIAC) host Linton this evening at 4:30 p.m. in a conference battle.
At Clay City
Clay City 9, North Central 1
|Croft ss||4||1||2||0||Stevenson cf||3||2||2||1|
|Clouse 2b||3||0||1||0||Kittle 2b||4||1||1||0|
|Chambers p||4||0||1||0||Booe c||4||3||3||1|
|Young c||3||0||1||0||Walton 3b||3||0||2||3|
|Street 3b||3||0||1||0||Reed ss||3||0||1||1|
|Caddell cf||3||0||2||0||Cottrell rf||4||0||2||0|
|Thomas 1b||2||0||0||0||Souder pr||0||0||0||0|
|Lucas ph||1||0||0||0||Miller lf||4||1||0||0|
|Jerrell dp||3||0||0||0||Dyer dp||4||0||1||0|
|White rf||3||0||1||0||Jeffers p||2||0||1||1|
2B -- CC (Booe 3, Walton 2, Reed, Cottrell), NC (Caddell). LOB -- CC 8, NC 9.
|Jeffers (W, 7-5)||7.0||1||9||0||5|