PDT Sports Contributor
SOUTH WEBSTER – In any sport, a team’s wherewithal is shown when tough situations arise.
The South Webster Jeeps showed off their mental toughness by overcoming a three-run deficit to start the contest to win going away by a 13-3 tally in five innings in a Division IV Softball Sectional Semifinal contest at South Webster Monday evening.
Rick Stringer said that he was impressed with the way that his young Jeep squad responded to early adversity.
“We settled down,” Stringer said. “We’re starting eight freshmen and one junior, so they’re very inexperienced. We’ve played a tough schedule all year long, but they don’t get down, they keep their heads up, and they keep playing.“
During the contest, the Flyers would strike first – and in a major way. Of the first five batters, all five would reach base, with three of the runners reaching through a walk. The result – three quick runs for Ironton St. Joseph. With runners on second and third and nobody out, trouble looked to be hitting early for the Jeeps.
However, after a meeting on the mound, Buckler settled in and retired the next three batters that she faced – two via the strikeout – to get herself and South Webster out of a major jam and prevent the Jeeps from having to come back from an even deeper hole.
“For a girl that hasn’t pitched any more than what she has, she’s really coming along,” Stringer said. “Once (the team) settles down, we’re alright.”
As a result, the bats came alive for South Webster in the bottom half of the first, with Haley Musser reaching on a single and then coming around to score after Caitlin Hanes was walked with no place to put her.
From that point on, it was all South Webster as the Jeeps took the lead and would subsequently break the game open in the following two innings, as South Webster scored 11 runs by showing good discipline at the plate and by taking advantage of what the Flyer defense gave to them.
A total of 13 batters would come to the plate in the second inning, as Hanes, Buckler, Gracie Billings, Kalen Hornikel, McKayla Belford, Alicia Watson, and Alyssa Sadler all drove in runs to push the Jeep lead to 8-3 after two innings of play had concluded.
South Webster added four more insurance runs in the bottom half of the third as Watson, Buckler, Sadler, and Lauren Hill all drove in runs for the Jeeps to push the lead to a 12-1 tally.
Stringer said that the adjustments by the South Webster batters helped the Jeeps control the contest.
“The big thing was just to get them to be patient and to play to the slower pitching,” Stringer said. “… They struggled with that at the beginning of the game and then they settled down and started to hit the ball well.”
The Jeeps, behind Belford’s run in the fourth and two strong relief innings by Billings, got the 13-3 mercy-rule victory in five innings.
South Webster will move on to play at one-seeded Reedsville Eastern on Thursday at 5 in a Division IV, Minford 1 Sectional Final, but Stringer believes that the Jeeps’ tough schedule has South Webster primed to give the one-seed a run for its money.
“They have a record of 16-1, but they couldn’t have played the schedule that we played all year long,” Stringer said. “If our girls show up and make the routine plays, we could be right in it, but you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Ironton St. Joseph 300 00 – 3 2 3
South Webster 174 1x – 13 7 1
Ironton St. Joseph – Roach 1-2 (BB, R), Porter 0-2 (BB, R), Alexander 1-3 (SB, R), Martin 0-1 (2 BB, RBI), Neal 0-1 (2 BB).
South Webster – Billings 1-2 (BB, R, RBI, HBP), Musser 1-3 (BB, 2 R), Hornikel 2-3 (R, RBI), Belford 0-1 (HBP, 2 BB, 2 SB, 2 R, RBI), Hanes 1-2 (R, BB, HBP, RBI), Watson 0-1 (3 BB, 2 RBI), Buckler 0-3 (BB, RBI), Sadler 2-3 (RBI, BB, R), Hill 1-1 (R), Grant 0-1 (3 R).
W – Buckler
L – Malmeister
Records – Ironton St. Joseph N/A, South Webster 2-18.