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Floyd hands Lady Cats first loss

April 16, 2008
After winning its first four games, North Harrison suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday at the hands of visiting Floyd Central, who went on a hitting terror to shut out the Lady Cats, 9-0. Floyd coach Joe Witten was glad to see his team bounce back from a sluggish performance the day before, despite having beaten county rival New Albany.

"We were pleased on the response from last night," Witten said. "Last night, we didn't play as well as we could. The best thing to do when you need to respond to a situation like last night, when we struggled, was to come out and play as well as we did. It was putting the ball in play that was the difference."

Floyd Central's Katie Phillips uses this swing of the bat for a two-run homer to give the Lady Highlanders a 6-0 lead over North Harrison in the fifth inning of their 9-0 win. (Photo by Wade Bell)
For North Harrison coach Ron Mitchell, the game was a big learning experience against some good pitching.

"We hadn't really come up against an outstanding pitcher yet," Mitchell said. "You have to have that live hitting, and good pitchers help you to improve. This game will just help us"

It took two innings before either team could get anything going offensively, but the Lady Highlanders caught fire in the top of the third.

April Vanderplow walked, Jenna Allen ripped a shot. She tried to stretch it into a triple, but was thrown out. Vanderplow, however, scored. Brittany Mills then reached third on a North Harrison error and later scored on a Libby Wright two-out double. Katie Phillips followed with a single and Floyd had a 3-0 lead.

"Today, it was to swing at strikes," Witten said. "Last night, we didn't swing at strikes. We helped the pitcher out. Tonight, we didn't have many stikeouts. Last night, we struck out 17 times, and we looked on the video that 11 of the strikeouts, they were balls, but we swung at them anyway."

Floyd added three more in the fifth inning, including two on a line drive home run by Phillips, pushing the lead to 6-0.

"They always have a really good hitting team," Mitchell said. "Even the girl that hit it out, she hit one out against us last year."

Floyd got another run in the sixth inning and two more in the top of the seventh inning, pounding the nails into the coffin even further. Of North Harrison's last seven batters, only one reached on safely, and the Lady Highlanders got the 9-0 win.

"They beat us up," Mitchell said. "We let Courtney (Crone) pitch, and she's just a sophomore. We didn't pitch our best pitcher. They were hitting her and they were hitting Mary (Robertson) when Mary went in there. They hit the ball well against us."

North Harrison finished with just two hits and made two errors. The Lady Cat pitching accounted for five strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.

Mitchell said a big mix of veterans and youngsters make this game a learning experience.

"It's one way or the other," he said. "We have the athletes, and this is a part of it. As the season goes on, the inexperienced players, they'll just have to gain that experience along the way. The veterans, tonight, they stayed solid no matter what. They were unnerved.

"Really, that's what you've got to have. As the season goes on you start getting in the conference and things like that, that's the kind of players you need."

Floyd finished with 12 hits and no errors. The Lady Highlander pitching finished with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

"We have stressed our hitting so much in the last few years, my assistant coach has really taken a lot of time to work with these players and spend more time than most," Witten said. "When we don't hit well, we take it personally and really wonder. It's such a mental game, and there's a lot done that's physical, we really try to help them in their mental aspect."

Witten also praised pitchers Rena Philpot and Sam Harbison for their performance.

"Last night, there was a lot of intensity and quite a bit of pressure in that game, your arch rival, your nemesis, and their response was fine last night," he said. "We didn't get ahead of the count as well as we did today. If you get ahead of hitters, their percentage of getting on base drops 100 to 200 points. It makes a big difference in getting ahead in the count.

"That's what happened with the two girls tonight. If they do that the rest of the year, we have a good chance to make some noise as we did last year. We've got a long way to go to be as good as we were last year."

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