IR softball starts off season hot, despite the cold

Lady Indians catch 10-6 win vs. Polytech

Date Published: 
March 28, 2014

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Shortstop Karlie Smith (left), third basemen Makenzie Collins (center), first basemen Madison McGee (background), and pitcher Rachel Hudson (right), excitedly head back out the field after a 7th inning out against Polytech last Monday, March 24.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Shortstop Karlie Smith (left), third basemen Makenzie Collins (center), first basemen Madison McGee (background), and pitcher Rachel Hudson (right), excitedly head back out the field after a 7th inning out against Polytech last Monday, March 24.With temperatures in the low 30s, it didn’t quite feel like opening day for the Indian River High School softball team last Tuesday, March 24. But despite the frigid cold, the Lady Indians were swinging hot, battling back from a 5-1 deficit to take down one of the top teams in the state in Polytech High School, 10-6.

The Lady Panthers jumped to a 4-1 lead early on, but senior pitcher Rachel Hudson kept her composure to keep their bats at bay, getting some help from senior short stop Karlie Smith who got the first out of the fourth inning with a diving grab between second and third before combining with senior catcher Sarah Hickman on a double play to close out the inning.

Senior second baseman Anamaria Impastato set the tone for a fifth-inning comeback, leading off with a shot to left field that fell just shy of the fence and ended in a double. She would score from second after Hudson dropped one in the centerfield gap on the next at-bat, closing the Polytech lead to 5-2.

Freshman outfielder Sarah Mumford’s bunt would load the bases in the same inning, with fellow freshman outfielder Olivia Ruberti knocking in Smith with a line drive to left field, to make the score 5-3.

After sophomore centerfielder Callie McDowell was walked to make it 5-4 with the bases still loaded, Mumford scored following a Polytech pitch that went awry, to tie the game at five.

IR would eventually take a 6-5 lead when Hudson tallied another RBI, again knocking in Impastato — this time with a grounder up the gut. Smith furthered the Lady Indians’ lead on the next at-bat, scoring off the RBI from Mumford to make it 7-5.

“‘We just need to hit’ — that’s what we kept telling them,” head coach Erika Brittingham explained of the impressive comeback, “laying off their pitch and hitting our pitch.”

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Shortstop Karlie Smith sets up for the throw after making a diving grab to keep the Lady Panthers from furthering their 4-1 fourth inning lead.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Shortstop Karlie Smith sets up for the throw after making a diving grab to keep the Lady Panthers from furthering their 4-1 fourth inning lead.The girls would eventually close the game at 10-6, starting the season off 1-0 against a Polytech team that went 17-1 last season and made it all the way to the DIAA finals. After losing to the Lady Panthers 14-0 last season, the March 24 win leaves the Lady Indians’ with high hopes for 2014.

“My expectations have been high since the beginning,” said Brittingham after the game. “I told them coming out, playing Polytech the first game would really set the tone for this team.

“I think that teams might be thinking a little bit different of what we’re able to do. We have a very young team, and they worked very hard today. They proved themselves.”

Brittingham went on to note that the borderline freezing temperatures didn’t affect her squad in the game and, in fact, the team embraced finally being able to play outside after a snowy, rainy pre-season.

“Actually, that did not affect my girls one bit,” she said of the weather. “They’ve been looking forward to this game. We’ve been stuck inside for a very long time, so any time that they can get on the dirt, they’re going to take full advantage of that.”

Up next, the girls will hit the road for two games, heading to Delmar on Friday, March 28, and then all the way up to Dover next Tuesday, April 1, before returning home to face Seaford on Thursday, April 3.