The Lady Indians varsity softball team notched three more wins this week, to improve their season record to 11-2. They did so by dumping a massive amount of runs on their opponents.
Coach Mark Browne’s squad unloaded 31 runs in three games, while enacting the mercy rule twice.
The Indians’ lineup has become so potent that Browne has had the opportunity to play his freshman reserves.
In fact, freshman reserve shortstop Hayley Brennan has been one of Indian River’s top performers over the past four games. Brennan effectively hit 4-6 with a triple and seven RBI’s in games against Newark and Dover.
“Hayley has made a nice contribution over the past three or four games. I’ve been experimenting using her in different spots and she has come through. She has proven that she can play at a high level,” said Browne.
Brennan has spent much of the season waiting, watching and cheering her teammates on, but when given the opportunity she has thrived on the pressure of stepping off the bench.
“I like the pressure of feeling that I could help the team. The older girls encourage us so much that it boosts our confidence,” said Brennan.
Aside from confidence, Brennan and her freshman counterparts have absorbed a wealth of knowledge from watching the players in front of them.
“When I’m not playing, I like to watch Jess (Spencer) play shortstop. She is so strong defensively that it gives me someone to look up to,” said Brennan.
Browne has used multiple variations in his lineup, in addition to playing Brennan. Reserve catcher Jill Gamble has seen action as a reserve base runner and at signal caller in the late stages of their blowout victories. She had an RBI single in the fifth inning of the Dover game to give Indian River a 9-0 lead.
Freshman pitcher Brittney Steele effectively came in during the fifth innings of the Newark and Lake Forest games to seal victories. Steele (1-0 and four saves) has pitched well in her limited action, due to strong mental preparation.
“I pitch on the side during the game and jog in between innings to stay loose. I never know when I’ll get in the game, so I prepare like I’ll play in every game,” said Steele.
While the ladies have made the best of their opportunities in their limited action, Browne also has a couple of workhorse freshman starters.
First baseman Jordan Warrington and second baseman Abi Buchler have wowed spectators with their spectacular glove-play this season and have shut down their half of the infield.
Warrington catches any ball hurled her way, whether it’s full extension in the dirt or above her head. She routinely makes tough plays look easy but she has had plenty of practice digging out balls out of the dirt.
“I’ve played the same position for eight years, mostly in Little League and Travel Ball,” said Warrington.
Warrington has complemented her glove work with a hot bat as of late. She went 3-3 against Dover, including three singles.
“Jordan has done a tremendous job for us at first base. She is playing well above average,” said Browne.
Second baseman Ali Buchler continues to go quietly unnoticed as she does the little things to help her team win.
“Ali does so many things well, I have to find a way to keep her in the game,” said Browne.
Playing varsity as a freshman may create pressure for these ladies, but their veteran teammates aim to relieve their anxieties with their own strong play.
Senior catcher Ravin Robinson went 3-3 with two doubles and a single, resulting in one RBI. Junior left fielder Jen Tyre drew first blood in the Dover game by lacing a RBI single into the outfield for the first run.
Tyre finished the day 2-3, with two singles, two RBI’s and one stolen base. Junior right fielder Kayla Warrington also went 3-3 with a double and two singles.
Junior starting pitcher Kathryn Riley (8-2) pitched a no-hit complete game in the win against Dover on April 26. Riley scattered six strikeouts over as many innings and almost had a perfect game.
One error marred the start but, overall, Riley has hit a new level on the mound.
“Kathryn and Ravin have been working very hard lately and are taking this very seriously in practice. And it is showing up in games. Ravin calls the game from behind the plate and they have done a good job mixing up the pitches,” said Browne.
The Lady Indians success thus far this season has given their team confidence and momentum. But their next string of opponents will make for tough match-ups.
The Lady Indians will play four ranked teams over the next three weeks and, to have a chance in the division, they must win.
No. 3 Caravel, No. 4 Cape Henlopen (a rematch from an earlier loss this season and a conference game), No. 6 Laurel, No. 7 Sussex Tech and a very good Caesar Rodney team litter the Indians’ upcoming schedule.
“This is definitely a hard part of our schedule. But our girls are good two-strike hitters, and that will put some pressure on their hitters. Even if we are behind, we can still score runs,” said Browne.