News and Tribune

Clark County Sports

April 30, 2014

HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Providence, New Albany called in seventh

CLARKSVILLE —  Both the New Albany and Providence softball teams performed well enough to win on Tuesday night.

Which ultimately takes the rivalry game — or if anyone does — is a question left on the soggy diamond of the host Pioneers.

In the midst of a huge rally, highlighted by a three-run home run from Whitney Atkins, the elements finally stopped the Bulldogs in their tracks, as officials suspended the game in the top of the seventh inning with New Albany holding a 7-6 edge. If it is reinstated, the game will continue with a Bulldog runner on second base and Danielle Williamson up to bat with none out.

Trying to maintain a perfect start to its season, New Albany (10-0) charged back in its last at-bat, it may still find itself without the victory. If the game is not rescheduled and completed, IHSAA rules state that the game will be ruled a no-decision.

That determination only applies to the regular season. In postseason contests, the score would revert back to where it was at the conclusion of the last full inning played.

Providence (8-4) only seemed to wilt after a light drizzle picked up and disturbed the rhythm of starter Sierra Collett, who had held the Bulldogs scoreless for five innings and allowed only one hit while striking out three and walking just one.

“My pitcher told me she couldn’t grip the ball,” said Providence coach Sean Payne, who couldn’t give an answer as to when the game would be finished. “Sierra dominated them the whole game. I’m sure they’ll take [what happened], but the game should have been called before then.”

New Albany coach Steve Belden was quick to praise Collett, but also his team for rallying despite falling behind 6-0 after the second inning.

“[Collett] pitched a great game and kept us off-balance,” Belden said. “We just left it up to the girls. A coach can try to motivate, but the team leaders are really who you want to see take over and they did that.”

Belden also said that he didn’t have a timetable for finishing Tuesday’s game, and that the decision would be made by the athletic departments at the two schools. If the game is completed, New Albany will have a chance to add to its lead and the Pioneers will have a chance to respond with a final at-bat.

Whatever the final result, both teams showed some serious firepower.

Providence grabbed the lead with six runs in the bottom half of the second, a surge led by one of the season’s most impressive at-bats. Third baseman Lillian Hughes, with the wind blowing strong toward home plate, blasted a 1-1 pitch from New Albany starter Kenzie Gill over the fence in left-center field to start the rally.

Four batters later, Melinda Cochran smacked an RBI single that scored both Jessica Payne and Karly Baumann for a 3-0 Providence lead. After Taylor Raymond reached on an error, the Pioneers’ Marlee Karem delivered a triple that plated two more runs, later coming home herself on an RBI double off the bat of Jacquie Hornung.

Gill was taken off the mound in favor of Hannah Morton, and the move paid off for the Bulldogs. Morton gave up just two hits over the next four innings, striking out three and allowing New Albany to keep its hopes alive.

The Bulldog offense finally came to life in the top of the sixth.

Jenna Fath led off the inning by drawing just the second walk off Collett, then scored on a single by Kennedy Wynn that hugged the third-base line and just eluded the grasp of Hughes. Wynn scored later on a fly ball from Williamson to make it 6-2 heading into the last frame.

With their backs against the wall and down to three outs, the Bulldogs struck with back-to-back singles from Kate Renner and Hannah Veit. Renner then scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-3 and Fath drew a walk to bring up Atkins, who cleared the bases with a drive to left field that tied it at six.

Collett departed after issuing a walk to Wynn and then scored on a wild pitch from reliever Riley Lovan to give the Bulldogs the lead. Morton reached on an error and ended up as the last hitter of the night, as officials quickly called a conference and suspended play.

While it may go down as an unsatisfying finish, Payne was quick to point out that the benefits — win or lose — will be seen later.

“The only thing that matters is to win in the postseason,” Payne said. “I like our team, and when we’re hitting and our defense plays the way it played today, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Likewise, Belden took away the positives from making a big rally, regardless of who is ultimately regarded as the victor, if anyone.

“The kids just didn’t want to give up,” Belden said. “I just have to give lots of credit to my starters. They hung in there and then we got some key hits and that’s the result.”


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