Headed into their Monday, April 10, matchup at division rival Indian River High School, the Delmar High School softball team was not only undefeated on the season, but ranked No. 2 in the state.
As has been the M.O. of the Indians during the tenure of fourth-year head coach Erika Murphy however, records and rankings don’t typically find their way into the game plan.
That philosophy was put on display on Monday afternoon, as the Indians ran wild on the ’Cats, racking up 18 hits and handing the state’s No.2-ranked squad their first loss of the season in six innings, by the final score of 12-2.
“We did the little things right today,” said Murphy after the game. “We kept their runners off the bases. We didn’t have as many free passes. We didn’t have as many errors. We just hit the ball. When you can string hits together, good things happen.”
After Delmar senior 3B Avery Wheatley scored to put the Wildcats up 1-0, in the top of the first inning, on what would end up the Indians’ only error on the day, IR junior CF Julia Bomhardt led off the bottom of the first inning with her first of four hits in the game — the other three ending up as doubles.
Then, with Bomhardt eventually finding her way into scoring position, senior LF Sami Mumford sent her home on an RBI-single, to tie the game at 1-1.
The Indians would take a 3-1 lead into the top of the third, with Delmar threatening to get back into contention but being thwarted by a leaping line-drive snag by IR senior 2B Madi McGee that kept them off the board, one of two clutch plays in the infield by McGee on the day.
Mumford got things rolling again in the bottom of the third, landing a triple on the lead-off at-bat and being hit home on an RBI-double from junior 3B Braydee Whitman to push the lead to 4-1.
Sophomore catcher Grace Snyder made it 5-1 in favor of the Tribe when she tallied her first high school career home run in the next inning.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a home run. I thought I just hit a line drive, but it went over,” said Snyder of the fourth-inning solo shot. “That’s the best feeling — rounding third and then seeing all your teammates surrounding the plate and smiling — that’s the best.”
The bottom of the sixth is when the bats really heated up, starting off with an RBI-double from junior P/DH Marley Evans that made it 6-2.
Sophomore catcher Kathryn Collins got on base with a single on the next at-bat, eventually being sent home on an RBI-single to left off the bat of sophomore 1B Samantha Mayfield.
After seeing the full lineup rotation in the same inning, Collins would eventually cap the game with an RBI-single of her own that scored Whitman and ended the game on the run rule in just six innings.
“We were patient at the plate. The girls were waiting for their pitch and not chasing what the pitcher wanted them to swing on,” said Murphy of the hit-happy performance. “This team is really good at communicating with each other what they’re seeing at the plate, and I think that’s a big part of why they’ve been successful.”
“The bats were on fire today,” added Snyder. “It was a team win.”
From the mound, sophomore pitcher Nicole Patille pitched five innings, giving up just four hits and recording two strikeouts before sophomore pitcher Abi O’Shields came into to shut things down.
“It’s been a team effort,” said Murphy of the pitching rotation this season. “Nicole started the game for us, and Abi finished strong. Whether it’s Marley or Abi or Nicole or Morgan [Bomhardt], we have options this year.”
Up next, the Indians will head into spring break, before getting things rolling again with a home game against Lake Forest scheduled for Thursday, April 20.
“We’re going to give the girls a chance to rest and spend some time with their families, but we’re still going be out here,” said Murphy. “Right now, we’re doing the little things right, but we still need to continue working hard in practice.”
“We’re going to practice hard over the break, then come back and, hopefully, continue the streak,” said Snyder.