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Bunts key in Floyd win

April 25, 2012
Most baseball or softball games that come down to the last inning are usually decided by a home run or long hit. For the Floyd Central Lady Highlanders, however, three straight bunts and some aggressive base-running proved to be the big key in disposing of visiting Hoosier Hills Conference-foe Madison, 2-0, last Wednesday.

"We had to play small ball tonight, and it helped us," Floyd Central coach Joe Witten said. "The girls did a good job of getting the signs and the ball in play, and it allowed us a chance to win a good, close game.

Floyd Central went to the short game against Madison in the sixth inning with three consecutive bunts, this last one by sophomore Kaitlin Dreher to score both runs in the Lady Highlanders’ 2-0 win. Photo by Wade Bell
"Madison, their program is doing a lot better than in the past. They've got a really good coach and their team is playing competitively. They had every chance to win, too, and we just got a few more hits at the end. So, I think both teams are proud of how both teams fared."

Floyd Central had chances to score early but left runners stranded in the bottom of the first, second and third innings. Both teams had their defense cranked up as the first five innings went scoreless.

"It wasn't like a game where there was eight or 10 strikeouts from each pitcher," Witten said. "Both (pitchers) that started the game kept the other players, not off balance, they just didn't give them great pitches to really hit the gaps. The outfielders made good plays. The infielders came up with good footwork and made routine plays. There wasn't many outstanding plays, but everybody made the routine plays."

Madison finally threatened in the top of the sixth inning. Following a single by catcher Courtney Sonner, Kelsey Block laid down a sacrifice bunt to move courtesy runner Rave Lee to second. With a 1-1 count on Katlin Brown, Witten switched in sophomore pitcher Caroline Cato for Alex Engleman. Brown walked, but Bree Barnes popped out and Cadie Povaleri struck out, leaving both runners on base.

"We've been in that situation a few times, so I think the past helped us there," Witten said. "Our pitchers just do a good job of getting ahead in the count and not falling behind."

Then came the bottom of the sixth, and Floyd Central knew it had to do something big. Briana Mayfield singled, Samantha Feather followed with a bunt hit. Cato put down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up a base.

Following a pitching change and with both runners on the move, Katelin Dreher laid down a sacrifice bunt to score both Mayfield and Feather.

Kate Kaiser singled and Engleman walked as Floyd Central threatened again, but that would be all the Lady Highlanders would get.

Cato then had to do her part on the mound in the top of the seventh, and she did so, striking out Hannah Bickers and Sarah Sparkling. Ashleigh Poling popped out to Feather at first, and the Lady Highlanders had the 2-0 win.

"We're glad to be the home team in case it got to be tied," Witten said. "I'm thrilled we won a good game. It was very close. We drew this team in our conference tournament. … Maybe it will be different. I don't know. I'm sure we'll see the same pitchers and they'll see the same ones we have, too, and the balls we hit will find the holes instead of the girls' mitts."

Floyd Central finished with five hits and made one error. From the pitching circle, Engleman struck out one and walked none, allowing just one hit in her five innings, while Cato struck out three and walked one. Morgan Harper had seven put-outs from third base. The Lady Highlanders left seven runners on base.

Witten credited both of his pitchers.

"Alex is our captain, a senior," he said of Engleman. "She doesn't throw it maybe as hard as the other girls, but she throws strikes, and, if you throw strikes and you don't walk anybody, it gives you a chance to win. I was just really happy with her, and our catchers called a really good game.

"Caroline, she may have overpowered them a little bit in the last inning or two. She faced nine hitters and struck out three of them, but nobody got that big hit off of her. Everything was in the infield. They got one hit to left field. The strikeouts and the ground balls to third really helped."

Madison finished with two hits and also had one error. Bickers struck out three, walked two and hit one Floyd Central batter. The Lady Cubs left three runners stranded.

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