Providence’s and Henryville’s softball teams know about crazy games against one another.
A year ago, the Pioneers led Henryville 9-1 in a first-round sectional game before the Hornets stormed back with eight runs in the seventh to send the game into extra innings. Providence prevailed on its way to its second straight sectional title.
However, none of the players or coaches had ever seen a game quite like Henryville’s 9-7 home victory on Thursday.
Starters Sierra Collett of Providence and Ashtyn Kaskie of Henryville threw five combined scoreless innings before the teams combined for 16 runs over the final inning and a half.
“What a display. I’m still in awe right now,” Henryville coach Jenny Schroeder said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. That was a hitting display by two good hitting teams. Crazy.”
“It was really nerve-wracking,” Henryville sophomore Emma Hendrick said. “I’m just glad we pulled through.”
Henryville had already put together a nice season. The Hornets have now won 12 straight and may now officially be the Paoli Sectional favorite.
“I think on paper, we probably are,” Schroeder said. “I think that our sectional is very competitive. I don’t see anyone as really the favorite. It could be anybody.”
Freshman Peyton Ottersbach said she believes the Hornets are the early sectional favorites, “but I don’t want our team to get cocky. We need to come out and play hard the rest of our games.”
Providence coach Sean Payne doesn’t believe anything has changed after Thursday’s game. Henryville entered the season as the favorites in his opinion.
“I think they have been from the get-go,” he said. “Jenny always has them well-schooled.”
After Kaskie dominated for five innings, Ottersbach relieved her in sixth. Providence sophomore Jacquie Hornung hit Ottersbach’s first pitch off of the scoreboard in center field for the first run of the contest.
The Hornets responded in a big way. They brought 15 batters to the plate — six against Collett and nine against reliever Riley Lovan — and scored nine runs on seven hits in the bottom of the sixth.
Down for the first time in the contest, Hendricks opened the frame with a first-pitch home run off of Collett.
Hendricks said her plan coming to the plate was “just to keep my hands up and stay back. I know I can hit pretty well and I just wanted to get on base for my players to hit me around.”
“Right before that inning, I pulled them in and told them we can change this game with one swing of the bat. So keep that in mind,” Schroeder recalled.
Hendricks’ ninth home run of the season was a deep shot over the left-center fence. It was probably the longest home run she’s ever hit, she said.
“It felt pretty nice. I knew it [was gone],” the third baseman said. “It hit right on the sweet spot.”
Emily Stewart followed Hendricks’ homer with a single and Kaskie sacrificed her to second. After Audrey VanMeter singled, Reagan Hensley’s double drove in Stewart with the go-ahead run.
After Spencer Whitehouse drew a walk to loaded the bases, Payne brought in Riley Lovan for Collett.
Ottersbach greeted Lovan’s second pitch with a deep shot over the right-field fence for a grand slam and a 6-1 Hornet lead. The home run was the first of the freshman’s career.
“I was thinking I just needed to keep the ball in play because we had a runner on third,” Otterbach said. “That was my mindset going up to the plate.”
“She definitely came through big,” Schroeder said. “That’s not something she’s going to forget any time soon.”
Henryville tacked on three more runs for a 9-1 advantage on Stewart, Kaskie and VanMeter RBIs.
“I have a lot of young girls. I’m proud of the girls for coming up and hitting the ball the way they did,” Schroeder said. “They did their jobs. They weren’t trying to hit home runs. They put the ball in play and make things happen. That was our goal.”
Providence didn’t lie down.
Taylor Raymond drew a one-out walk and scored along with Marlee Karem, who doubled earlier, on Henryville’s second error of the contest. Hornung followed with a two-run RBI double down the left-field line. Lillian Hughes then hit a towering two-run home run to make it 9-6. It was Hughes’ third homer of the season.
Hornung finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run. She hit the ball hard four times.
“She’s awesome,” Payne said of Hornung. “She’s an awesome athlete and everything comes natural to her. It was nice to see her have a big day for us. It’s been a good year for her so far.”
“She’s a hard out, for sure,” Schroeder said of Hornung. “That’s a challenge for any team. She’s good.”
Providence (9-6) cut the lead to 9-7 when Charly Wolford knocked in Karly Baumann with an RBI double.
The Pioneers brought the tying run to the plate twice, but Ottersbach got Sydney Milliner to pop up and Melinda Cochran to ground out to end the game.
“It was super-stressful, but I knew I had to keep my composure,” Ottersbach said. “I had to put the ball across the plate, let them hit and trust my defense behind me.”
“I’m not the type of person who’s typically comfortable in a game,” Schroeder said. “I know Providence can hit, so I know what can happen.”
Providence’s tough week continues today when it hosts Floyd Central.
“It’s going to be very tough, probably the best team in Southern Indiana,” Payne said of the HIghlanders. “Our schedule is crazy. I don’t think anyone plays as tough of a schedule as we do.”
Henryville (12-2) goes to Brownstown Central today in a makeup game. It’s the start of a tough stretch that includes games against North Harrison and Southwestern on Saturday and Borden and Salem next week.
HENRYVILLE 9, PROVIDENCE 7
Providence 000 001 6—7 9 0
Henryville 000 009 x—9 11 3
W — Peyton Ottersbach (5-1). L — Sierra Collett (5-3). 2B — Jacquie Hornung 2 (P), Marlee Karem 2 (P), Audrey VanMeter (H), Reagan Hensley (H). HR — Hornung (P), Lillian Hughes (P), Emma Hendricks (H), Ottersbach (H).
Records — Providence 9-6, Henryville 12-2.