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Lady Highlanders stop Columbus East

April 15, 2009
With several members of his team benched for rules violations, Floyd Central girls' softball coach Joe Witten had plenty of reasons to be concerned about the outcome of the Lady Highlanders' Hoosier Hills Conference game against visiting Columbus East on Thursday. Witten's younger players, however, put their best foot forward and pulled out a 4-1 win over the Lady Olympians.

"I really didn't know," Witten said of what to expect. "We have so many young players that are inexperienced at this highest level. We just have to trust in their ability, in their skill, in their drill work during the off-season. For the most part, they got to showcase some of it, but they're really immature as far as their field experience. I was proud they didn't let the big play get away, and the big inning."

Floyd Central senior Brittany Mills makes this pickoff look easy as she tags out Natasha Brewer in the first inning of the Lady Highlanders’ 4-1 win. Photo by Wade Bell
Witten's concerns probably jumped to another level as Columbus East got on the board first in the first inning. A Floyd error with two outs allowed East's Rachel Schoetliner to get into scoring position at second base then to third on a passed ball. Tabitha Feller then stole first on a third strike tip foul. Schoetliner scored and East had the first lead.

Floyd quickly tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Brittany Mills got a bunt single, then Kateline Kaiser sacrificed, moving Mills to second. Brigid Morrisey also singled and both runners advanced after East bobbled a throw. Jordan Batliner grounded out, but Mills scored to tie the game.

In the third inning, the Lady Highlanders punched ahead as Samantha Feather crossed the plate with two outs. In the fifth, Floyd added to that lead as Feather crossed the plate again with two outs.

Columbus East kept Floyd's Emily Brown busy in the sixth as the Highlander left fielder caught back-to-back fly balls.

In the seventh, Brown singled, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. She then scored as Paige Davis went to first on a tipped third strike, giving Floyd a 4-1 lead.

The Highlanders stopped a possible scoring threat in the seventh inning as East's Kate Rockwell got picked off by Floyd catcher Ashley Robertson, and the Lady Highlanders went on to win, 4-1.

"They did a good job," Witten said of his team. "Our sophomore, Battery (Jordan Batliner), did a good job of getting ahead of the hitters. That made it a lot easier for us."

Batliner hurled 10 strikeouts in the seven innings, held the Lady Olympians to a single hit and walked only one batter. Floyd (3-2) had five hits, but committed two errors.

"We had a sophomore (Ashley Robertson) that went two-for-two," the Floyd coach said. "Other than some of the defensive footwork from here today, she did a wonderful job putting the ball in play. Anything offensively you get out of a catcher is wonderful. They tried to get a bunt down and they tried to steal on her. She threw two runners out today. Right now, for the year, she has thrown four runners out."

Witten was also pleased with the play of Brown, another sophomore.

"She's really steady, and she's a girl who works extremely hard in practice and is getting better," he said. "Going into the season, she wasn't one of our top nine or 10 players. She's really pushing for that. She's getting on base and she's making plays."

Witten's veteran players will be out of the doghouse this week, but the Floyd coach said the experience his younger players got during that time will increase the team's depth down the road.

"It's experience and it's just getting some innings in, and using the first 10 or 12 games is really just trying to feel out the way your team is and see how girls respond in unfamiliar situations," he said. "So, today was a good day on our growth and, hopefully, we can get better and try to win a sectional title."

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