By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Taylor Batliner hit a one-out, two-RBI single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Floyd Central a thrilling 5-4 victory over rival Jeffersonville on Monday.
Batliner lined a Kayleigh Thomas pitch into center field, allowing Clara Shean and Gabbi Jenkins to cross the plate with the tying and winning runs.
“I had confidence. I had to do this for my team,” Batliner said. “I had to pick them up. I wasn’t going to let them down.”
“What do you say about a kid who constantly just fights?” Floyd manager Scott Castleberry praised Batliner. “I knew that was going to be a hit. That was awesome.”
Jeff (6-4) scored three times in the top of the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. Thomas retired the 11-2 Highlanders in order in the sixth, but the Highlanders’ Alyssa Ford opened the seventh with a single into right field before being relieved by Shean on the bases. Jenkins then lined a single past the Red Devils’ Emily Gray at first base to put runners on first and second base.
A fielder’s choice allowed Shean and Jenkins to move up and Regan Hadley hit an infield single. Neither runner was able to advance, but it set the table for Batliner’s heroics.
“We’re going to define ourselves by fighting every pitch,” the first-year Floyd skipper said. “I don’t care if we’re ahead or behind. You can’t look behind in a game. You can only look forward. So we’re going to fight every pitch.”
“Floyd’s a big rival and the girls really wanted it today — like they want it every day,” Jeff coach Jodi Bradley said. “[The loss] is disappointing, but I look at it as a growing moment for us. We’ll see them again.”
Batliner went 4-for-4 and knocked in three of the Highlanders’ five runs in the triumph.
“I felt really confident,” Batliner said. “I had a good day today.”
“I worked a little bit with her before the game on her swing,” Castleberry explained. “I told her she needs to be confident. She needed to relax at the plate. She did that today. She waited for her pitches and was very relaxed. She’s such a great hitter.”
Floyd took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Batliner and Morgan Harper.
The Red Devils threatened to get on the board in the second when they had runners on first and second with two outs. But Gray’s potential RBI was robbed by an over-the-shoulder catch by Floyd second baseman Bri Mayfield.
“Bri, she did a great job recovering on that,” Castleberry said.
Jeff did finally get on the board in the fifth on a Courtney Shepherd RBI single that scored Emma Coons. But another potential Devils’ rally was foiled by the Highlander defense. With Shepherd and Gray on second and third, Tori Flaten hit a deep fly ball to left-center field. Highlander left fielder Jenkins made a catch deep in the left-center gap hole to save two runs.
“Gabby’s a freshman who normally plays middle infield,” Castleberry said. “We’ve kind of converted her to outfield. When that ball went back, I knew she had a chance. But that was a heck of a catch. That probably changed the game.”
Jeff’s line drive started to find the gaps in the Floyd defense in the sixth. After Janel Nelson singled with one out, Thomas grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out. With Thomas on second, Macy Neese came through with an RBI single to get the Devils within a run.
“Today’s the first day that she’s gotten to bat,” Bradley said of Neese. “Obviously, she did a great job in a pressure situation.”
Coons and Jeff’s Marley Edwards followed with singles to load the bases. Shepherd then hit a double to the base of the left-center fence, allowing Neese to cross the plate with the tying run and Coons to score the go-ahead run. Edwards was thrown out at the plate for the final out.
“I like how our girls didn’t give up,” Bradley said. “That’s always something you like to see.”
“We weren’t going to get down on ourselves,” Batliner said. “We had to keep hitting and that’s what we did.”
Floyd got a lot of production from its talented freshmen. Jenkins went 2-for-4, reached base three times and scored twice, while Hadley was 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Shepherd was 2-for-4, reached three times and had three RBIs for the Red Devils. Edwards went 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt.