‘Karlie Clutch’: Smith’s seventh-inning homer allows for 3-2 victory at Delmar
Top of the 7th. Down 2-0. Runners on first and second. Two outs.
The pressure was certainly on when Indian River High School senior shortstop Karlie Smith stepped up to the plate against Delmar last Friday, March 28, but for Smith it was just another at-bat.
“I was just in the zone,” she explained of her cool demeanor during one of the most pressured situations of her high school softball career. “It’s one of those moments. I just knew I had to do something.”
But Smith didn’t just do “something,” she did exactly what the Lady Indians needed and have come to expect from her over the years — waiting for her pitch and connecting with a shot that would fly well over the fence in left-center, giving IR a 3-2 lead.
The bleachers erupted and the dugout cleared out as senior second-baseman Anamaria Impastato reached home, followed by freshman first-baseman Madi McGee for the tying run, and finally Smith — who excitedly stomped into a crowd of fired-up teammates as she crossed the plate.
McGee was the one to initially spark the late-inning theatrics, giving the Lady Indians new life when she narrowly beat the throw to first after back-to-back outs to start the inning that almost ended it for IR. Impastato also came through in the clutch when she lined a shot into center on the next at-bat, sending McGee to second and Smith to the batter’s box.
“They got on for me,” Smith said after the game. “We had a lot of opportunities throughout the game. I think we had other chances to win. But I’m just glad we pulled it off. We deserved it.”
Of course, after the offensive showing, the Lady Indians still had to close out the inning on defense. Enter star senior pitcher Rachel Hudson.
After giving up a fourth-inning home run that had originally put the Lady Wildcats up 2-0, Hudson took the mound determined to lock in the victory for her squad. After a quick initial out by Smith at short, a fiery-eyed Hudson quickly became teary eyed — after throwing back to back strike-outs and being met with an embrace by her teammates on the mound after the game.
“I’ve been pitching for so long, I think it just comes natural,” Hudson said of dealing with the late-game stress. “I get nervous, but I work through it and just take deep breaths.”
“She was on it today,” head coach Erika Brittingham commented on her pitcher’s performance. “Her pitches were working, everything was working — she really proved herself today.”
For a young squad, starting the year off with wins against two of the better teams in the state could have caused them to overlook some games against historically less-talented teams — however, Brittingham has her girls taking it one game at a time.
“The biggest thing this year is we play a game like it’s our first game,” she explained of the team’s mantra. “That’s how we look at it. I don’t like them looking ahead.”
That strategy proved successful last Tuesday, April 1, when the team traveled all the way to Dover to rout the Lady Senators 12-1. While the scoring came from throughout the lineup, Impastato notably belted a three-run homer in the fifth to put IR up 10-0.
The now-3-0 Lady Indians were back at home to face Seaford on Thursday, April 3, (after Coastal Point press time), but will hit the road again to square off against St. Mark’s on Saturday, April 5, and then head up to Sussex Tech on Tuesday, April 8.
If you can’t make it to the game, make sure to follow @CPointSports on Twitter for softball updates and coverage of all Indian River spring sports.