The Indian River varsity softball team enacted the mercy rule as they steam-rolled St. Marks, 11-0, in five innings on March 22.
The Indians offense was hitting on all cylinders as their three through five hitters accounted for nine of their 11 RBIs. Senior catcher Ravin Robinson was one at-bat away from possibly hitting for the cycle, but never got the chance. She went 3-3, hitting a double, triple and a home run, which accounted for a team-high five RBIs.
Junior Kayla Warrington benefited from hitting behind Robinson by also going 3-3 with a double and three RBIs. Junior Jennifer Tyre accounted for an additional three RBIs as well in the effort.
“We hit the ball really well today,” said head coach Mark Browne. “It was good for us to get out to an early lead.”
Apparently, the offensive-free-for-all boosted the Indians confidence as they prepare for a long and competitive season.
“This was a really big win for us. It gives us confidence going into the season,” said senior starting pitcher Kathryn Riley.
Riley had reason to have a lot of confidence — she had her teammates backing her up. “Our defense played really well. I didn’t have a lot of strikeouts so the defense picked up the slack,” said Riley.
Riley quietly struck out five St. Mark’s batters in a closely evaluated start. Having injured her wrist over the weekend in a scrimmage, Browne wanted to take the necessary precautions.
“We didn’t want to rush Kathryn for this game with a chance to lose her for any part of the season, but she felt fine when she warmed up and pitched, and luckily our pitching held up,” said Browne.
Riley and relief pitcher Kayla Warrington combined to pitch a one-hit shutout of one of the state’s top programs. “They aren’t as good as they have been in the past, but it is still huge for us to beat a school of that size and tradition,” said Browne.
When the Lady Indians weren’t getting strikeouts, they were scooping up St. Mark’s grounders. Freshman second baseman Abby Buchler steered the Lady Indians on the right track by corralling the first three ground balls to force the end of the inning.
Buchler proved to everyone that she belongs out there on one of the best teams in the state when she snagged a ball deep into the hole to turn the first out of the inning.
“Abby is a very fundamentally sound softball player,” said Browne.
Buchler and the rest of the Indians infield were able to gobble up the St. Mark’s slow rollers because of the effectiveness of Riley’s pitches. “I was able to throw some junk in there to get some outs,” said Riley.
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and Riley apparently has a wide repertoire of pitches to get the job done.
“Kathryn has been playing softball since she was a little girl, and she has become a very good pitcher. She can throw a screwball and breaking pitches,” said her father, Lou Riley.
Jumping out to a hot lead in the conference may be the most important thing for the Lady Indians to recapture their success in 2002 when they were sixth in the state. Beating a team that was 10th in the state last year will be a good yardstick for a team that will face tough competition from within its own conference.