The Lady Indians hit the ball hard, far and often in a 16-1 state tournament win over Concord on May 24 but none hit it better than first-team all-conference catcher Sara Powell.
She led the team with two homeruns — including one monster three-run blast unofficially marked at 230 feet — on 4-4 hitting and tallied six RBI’s.
The ball cleared the game fence, then the fence separating school property and private property before a fan made his way through the deep grass to retrieve the ball in someone’s back yard.
Powell, Abi Buchler, Kathryn Riley, Shauna Jacobs and Jordan Warrington each left their mark on Concord pitching, tattooing dark bruises on deep shots to the warning track and they just missed hitting additional homeruns in the winning effort.
Indian River finished with a .525 team batting average (22-40) for the game, six players drove in runs and seven of the nine starting batters had multi-hit games.
Indian River tacked on 10 runs at the end of the three innings, which allowed head coach Mark Browne to take a look at some of his seldom-used batters.
Jill Gamble smacked the second pitch into left field for a single and Jessica Braun fought off two straight foul balls in a full count to deliver a RBI single that extended the Lady Indians’ lead to 13-1.
“It’s good to see our bats come alive — not that they weren’t before,” Browne said. “We had real, real good swings and had a good approach to the game and stayed with that approach the whole game, instead of putting too much pressure on ourselves.”
“We really had nice swings,” he added, “but I think besides Sara Powell’s tremendous game, nothing more made me happier than for Jessica Braun and Jill Gamble to get hits in this game. Jessica has improved light years and to see her foul two or three foul balls back and come up with a hit says something about them. They come to practice every day, and not having a JV team, she (Braun) could’ve said, ‘I’m not going to play on the varsity, so I’m not going to go out for the team.’”
Shortstop, but seldom used batter, Lindsay McCabe also delivered a single in her only at-bat.
Jacobs put the nail in the coffin offensively on a two-RBI triple in the fifth inning, in a 2-4, three-RBI day to give Indian River its final run tally.
Starting pitcher Kathryn Riley dominated Concord’s batters in her four innings of work before giving way to Brittney Steele and Sara Tyre in the fifth inning. Riley issued a leadoff walk to start the game, but it was all downhill from there for her and the Lady Indians.
She struck out seven in four innings pitched. She only gave up two singles and allowed no runs.
Steele pitched the fifth inning and allowed a leadoff double, which two batters later was driven in by center fielder Sara Stevenson on a RBI single. Steele rebounded to strike out the next batter on a full count and Powell finished the rest.
Concord reached third base only once but Powell quickly erased that to end the inning by tossing out one of two base runners who were simply drifting off the base.
Sara Tyre pitched the final two innings, striking out four, but Powell put the exclamation point on the game by nailing left fielder (and No. 8 batter) Patty Webster at first, after she had reached base on a low throw by McCabe.
Stevenson had just fallen behind 0-2 on a swinging strike and the way Tyre was mixing her pitches, the game was probably not far away from being over. But Powell rocketed a throw down to an ever-ready Warrington for the tag and the final out.
“If they’re taking a big enough lead, I’m going to take a chance,” she said.
Browne took it one step further.
“She sent a message to the conference when she threw out a base runner in the Sussex Central game. And since the, very few teams have tried to run on her,” he said.
“I’ve said it all along that she’s a Division I talent, and she showed that she has as quick and accurate an arm as anybody in the state.”
“They (Concord) didn’t run on her and she still picked them off,” Browne said.
Powell credited her stellar offensive day to her teammates’ and coaches’ support and instruction.
“The team gave me so much support and the coaches have been working with me to stay on the ball and keeping my hands back,” she said.
“We were so pumped for this game and we’ve worked so hard because as seniors this we know this could be it. We played like this was our last game.”
Indian River narrowly beat Concord last year, 3-1.
The Lady Indians will play Seaford at the Sports at the Beach Complex in Georgetown on May 27 at 7 p.m.
Seaford beat Hodgson 9-7 in its state tournament opener.