The No. 3 Lady Indian’s varsity softball team has kept the ball rolling, winning their last seven and improving their record to 13-2 and 9-1 in the conference.
They paid back Cape Henlopen for an earlier non-conference loss on May 3 by defeating the Vikings 6-4.
Junior Kathryn Riley was pulled in the fourth inning due to control problems, which prompted Head Coach Mark Browne to insert freshman Brittney Steele into the game.
“Kathryn was struggling to throw strikes. I think she was trying to be a little too fine with her pitches,” said Browne.
Steele shut down Cape Henlopen for 2 1/3 innings, until Riley was put back in with two outs to seal the victory.
“Brittney is a great change-of-pace pitcher and she threw strikes. She wasn’t bothered by the magnitude of the game or their lineup,” said Browne. “We wanted her to get through their lineup once, and she did that.”
Steele effectively threw a wide range of pitches to keep Cape’s hitters on their heels — off-speed, then fast ball, and vice versa.
Steele recorded the first out of the seventh inning before handing the ball back to Riley.
Steele rocked Cape to sleep with her off-speed pitches, and when Riley came back in it was lights-out. Riley worked quickly, forcing a weak lineout and ground-out back her way to complete the game.
Riley didn’t pitch her best game but she made up for it at the plate. She had two RBI’s on two hits, including a double.
Freshman first baseman Jordan Warrington also had two hits, two RBI’s and a double in the effort. Freshman Sara Powell kept the boat afloat at the top of the order by collecting two hits herself.
“Sara’s a good leadoff hitter. She puts the ball in play and gets on base,” said Browne.
In addition to edging out Cape Henlopen, the Lady Indians railed formerly No. 6-ranked Laurel 12-2 on April 28. Riley and senior catcher Ravin Robinson both had two RBI’s, and Robinson and Powell both knocked Laurel around for doubles.
“I was thrilled with the victory over Laurel. I didn’t expect to score 12 runs. We have a lot of respect for Brittney Joseph (Laurel’s starting pitcher) as a pitcher and we know that the result of the game could be different on any given day,” said Browne. “We’re still taking it one game at a time.”
This win comes at a critical moment for the Lady Indians. While their first game against Cape wasn’t a conference game, this one was and it couldn’t have been bigger.
Five of the Henlopen Conference teams are in the top 10 in the state. Indian River and still has four more conference games remaining.
The Lady Indians will take on No 6. Sussex Tech on May 6 for their final ranked conference game. Their season finale will be against non-conference No. 5 Caravel on May 18.