BY MATTHEW CRESS
It took a pair of narrow losses and a few rainouts, but the Henryville softball team found its way into the win column.
Along the way, the Hornets grabbed an early leg up in what’s sure to be a competitive Southern Athletic Conference race.
A three-run second inning and a three-run home run by Emma Hendricks gave Henryville pitcher Ashtyn Kaskie more than enough support to grab a 9-2 victory over visiting New Washington on Friday night. Kaskie was tough throughout, striking out four and allowing one hit over the final four innings.
“We played sound defense today,” said Henryville coach Jenny Schroeder. “We did our job. If our pitcher throws strikes and we back her up, we’ll win some games.”
Henryville (1-2) finally broke through after dropping matchups with Corydon and New Albany in narrow fashion. The Class A Hornets fell 6-5 to Class 4A New Albany on Thursday.
The outcome on Friday was never in doubt, even after the Mustangs (1-2) opened the game by hitting Kaskie hard and scoring in their first at-bat. New Wash got singles from Kaitlyn Schindler, Karen Profitt and scored on a grounder from Kaelin Williams.
The Hornets answered in the bottom half of the opening frame on a two-out double from Brie Burton and then added three more runs in the bottom half of the second inning to take control and give Kaskie all the runs she would need in her matchup with New Wash pitcher Brooke Shaw.
The rally started on a single from Emily Stewart, who came around to score on a single from Kaskie. Hannah Nunn then extended the inning by reaching on an error and two runs scored on a fly ball off hit by Audrey VanMeter.
Miscues by the Mustang defense also allowed a run in the fifth inning, as Spencer Whitehouse hit a double and then scampered home on a New Wash throwing error.
It wasn’t a surprise to Mustang coach Tim Sexton, who is still doing some early-season tinkering in what should not have been an early-season contest. The Mustangs have lost four games to the weather and Friday’s matchup was just their third of the year.
“We’re very young and inexperienced,” Sexton said. “We’re still trying people out in different positions until we figure out where everyone needs to be. We’re gonna be there by the end of the season.”
Shaw supported herself with a solo home run in the third inning. but the Mustangs never again managed to mount a rally against Kaskie. New Wash did manage to continually test the Hornet defense with well-hit balls that the Hornets managed to field cleanly.
“We hit the ball hard,” Sexton said. “We just hit them right to them and they made the plays. They caught everything. They just don’t make mistakes.”
The Henryville offense again jumped on Shaw in their final time up, getting three runs on just eight pitches. With one out, Emily Hollis singled to left field and Nunn followed with a single on a 1-1 pitch. That brought up Hendricks, who blasted the first offering from Shaw over the fence in centerfield that put the exclamation point on the Hornets’ first win.
“We needed a win,” Schroeder said. “We talked a lot about this being the time to start turning it on. We don’t want to just be competitive, we’re here to win. That’s our goal.
“We were disappointed yesterday [against New Albany]. We struck out 10 times. We wanted to put the ball in play and make them beat us. We did a much better job of making plays tonight.”
The win gives the Hornets a bit of an edge — at least for now — in the SAC race that Sexton thinks could be won by a variety of squads.
“Any conference game is so important,” Sexton said. “We think Borden is going to be very tough and Lanesville is still No. 1 until someone beats them. And these two teams here tonight will be there, so every game is big.”
Henryville will try to begin its first winning streak when it hosts Laville today. New Wash will return to action against Clarksville at home on Monday.
NEW WASHINGTON 2, HENRYVILLE 1
New Wash 101 000 0—2 6 3
Henryville 131 013 x—9 11 1
WP — Ashtyn Kaskie (1-2). LP — Brooke Shaw (1-2). 2B — Brie Burton (H), Spencer Whitehouse (H), Gracie Spiegelhalder (NW). HR — Shaw (NW), Emma Hendricks (H).
Records — New Washington 1-2 (0-1 SAC); Henryville 1-2 (1-0).