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Floyd Central sinks Lady Pirates, 7-0

April 04, 2012
The Floyd Central Lady Highlanders used a broadside against the visiting Lady Pirates of Charlestown Thursday afternoon to earn a 7-0 shutout. Sophomore pitcher Caroline Cato gunned down 12 Charlestown batters in a solid effort for the win.

Floyd Central sophomore Caroline Cato struck out 12 batters in the Lady Highlanders’ 7-0 shutout of Charlestown. Photo by Wade Bell
"We have a lot of new players that's in the program, and when I say new, this is their first varsity games," Floyd Central coach Joe Witten said. "They've worked so hard in the off-season to prepare for these precious games, so I just have a lot of confidence in them. They have a lot of skill. Their ability is very high. Their work ethic is getting better. When you put all of those ingredients together, you're usually going to put a pretty good product out there."

Floyd Central got its first run in the bottom of the first. Following walks by Taylor McClure and Taylor Batliner, two passed balls allowed McClure to score for a 1-0 Lady Highlanders lead.

Neither team scored in the second inning, but, in the third, the Lady Highlanders put Charlestown on notice. Kallie Krammes walked, then Batliner went all the way to third on a Lady Pirates error, scoring Krammes. Following a Samantha Feather walk, Kate Kaiser singled to score Batliner. Cato grounded out to first, but Feather scored. Kaiser later came home on a passed ball, and Floyd Central improved its lead to 5-0.

Witten said a change last year in the pitching distance has allowed the ball to be put in play more, leading to more defense and more scoring.

"We used to be at 40 feet, and now we're at 43 feet," he said. "It's quite a bit of difference. They did a study over the first year, and the average run production almost tripled from the season before. When teams are winning 1 or 2-0 and now it's 6 and 7's, it gives the defense more opportunity to make plays, but you can't hide lesser players in the field because they're going to get balls hit to them. You've got to really work on defense instead of just having a pitcher/catcher dominate the game."

In the bottom of the fourth, Morgan Harper and McClure began the inning with back-to-back singles. A double steal by the pair later set up a score by Harper when McClure got caught in a rundown, Floyd Central's lead increasing to 6-0. The Lady Highlanders crossed the plate one more time in the bottom of the sixth following hits by Harper and Amber Mahan, with Harper scoring on another passed ball.

"They just like to play," Witten said of his team. "Not that they don't like to practice. They thrive on practice, but their focus is really mature for the young bunch that we have. They don't let things bother them, and they just give you such a good effort. I think it has a lot to do with the good leadership we had few years. Those girls were such dominant leaders and they set good examples. These girls want to fulfill these same expectations, and they're doing it so far."

Floyd finished with six hits, with Kaiser, a senior, and Harper, a sophomore, getting two each. The Lady Highlanders committed no errors in the field.

Witten said Kaiser has good speed to get herself around the bases and Harper is just an all-around aggressive player.

"The right fielder tried to make a nice play and just didn't come up with it," Witten said of Kaiser's triple. "Kate runs very well. When she runs as well as she does, they're doubles for most people, but, for her, they're triples.

"With Morgan, when you have the nine hitter going 2 for 2 with a walk, you've got to like your chances. With her, you get to flip the lineup around, and she's probably more like a one, two or three hitter on a lot of other high school teams. For us, she works real well in the nine spot … She hates to lose. If we hit line balls and she missed one out of 20, you would think the world is going to come to an end because she expects to get them all. She takes such pride in being a winner and working hard when she's out on the field."

Cato's 12 strikeouts were a fiery beginning for the sophomore in her first varsity start.

"She looked like a senior veteran," the Floyd Central coach said. "With the size she is and her length and how she throws and releases the ball, she's able to stretch it out and have a little more velocity on it. She was changing speeds and she was hitting her spots. I was really proud of her today. She didn't walk anybody, and she struck out 12. You've got to like your chances if you have the strikeouts in the game."

Charlestown had just three hits while committing one error. Hurler Allis Webster had six strikeouts and six walks.

"Half of our team are sophomores," Witten said. "With that, it's promising for our future, but we also have seniors that are as good of leaders as we've had. They lead by example off and one the field. They're solid in the game. They make few mistakes, and I'm proud. It was a team effort."

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