‘Cape Crusaders’: Lady Indians demolish North rival Cape Henlopen, 8-2
After going down 2-0 early in last Saturday’s matchup against Henlopen North rival Cape Henlopen, the Indian River High School softball team put together an eight-run inning in the bottom of the fifth to eventually lock in an 8-2 victory.
“They played a lot of small ball, and they have some really quick girls on their team. It kind of hurt us in the first inning,” head coach Erika Brittingham explained. “After the first inning, we played our defense for that a little better.”
After making some lineup adjustments — which Brittingham went on to explain were specific to the matchup — the Lady Indians were able to keep Cape off the board behind the pitching of senior Rachel Hudson, who pitched the entire game and left two runners stranded in the top of the fifth inning, just before the scoring run began.
After coming through for the defense, it was Hudson who sparked the scoring for the offense in the same inning, with two outs, knocking an RBI-single up the middle to send sophomore center fielder Callie McDowell home for the score and senior shortstop Karlie Smith to third.
Smith would even the score at two on the next at-bat, off the RBI from sophomore outfielder Ky’Lesha Neal. Still with two outs, freshman outfielder Olivia Ruberti knocked in Hudson for the go-ahead run on the next play, with freshman outfielder Samantha Mumford getting a shot to drop in right field on the next at-bat, eventually stretching the lead to 5-2.
Still with two outs, but now with a comfortable lead, sophomore DH/C Eliza Bombhardt continued the hitting hot streak by rocking a two-run shot over the right-field fence, for her second home run of the season, to make it 7-2.
“It was inside, and it was a little bit high — probably a curveball. Usually, I hit a little bit outside,” Bombhardt said, describing the pitch. “First I swung at a ball that was not my pitch. Another ball went by and I had two strikes, and I just relaxed and just hit it.”
After Bombhardt’s base-clearing homer, the Lady Indians loaded them up again, still in the same inning for Smith — who was intentionally walked for the majority of the game. Cape would finally get out of the inning, but not before freshman first-baseman Madison McGee scored from third on a wild pitch, to make it 8-2.
The win put the Lady Indians at 9-2 on the season, but they would slip to 9-3 after an out-of-character performance against Woodbridge on Tuesday, May 6.
“The pitcher threw great today. She beat us,” Brittingham said of the 11-strike-out performance by the Woodbridge pitcher. “We didn’t play our best game today. We just need to work harder.”
The game took a turn in the first inning, when Hudson was hit in the hand by a line drive. She would eventually return to the game, with sophomore pitcher Casey Hitchens pitching well in her absence. But even with impressive base-running and an inside-the-park homerun from Smith, the Lady Indians couldn’t string together enough scores and would go on to lose 7-4.
“I think we’re the target right now, and a lot of teams are ready to beat us,” said Hudson after the game. “I think we were ready for the game, but we weren’t ready for the things that happened during the game.”
The loss to Woodbridge marks the first loss to a Henlopen South opponent, but the Lady Indians still have a chance for the title and sit well-positioned for the state playoffs, with Lake Forest, Milford and Laurel still on the docket.
On Thursday, May 8, (after Coastal Point press time) the girls would be looking to get back on track when they traveled to Lake Forest, before returning home to face Sussex Central for senior night at the Pyle Center on Tuesday, May 13. After that, the Lady Indians will hit the road for a four-game stretch to finish out the regular season.