BY WILL WILLEMS
DOVER — After struggling to get the bats going in their first four games of the season, things are starting to come together for the Western Boone softball team.
The Stars scored 16 runs in winning 16-8 against Lafayette Jeff on Saturday, then had another big offensive game in an 11-2 win over Clinton Central on Monday.
“I think we are definitely hitting the ball better and putting it in play,” Western Boone head coach Mike Vanderpool said. “We only have two strikeouts the last two games, so we are putting the ball in play and hitting it solid. We still need to tighten up or defense, but we are making strides.”
The Stars only scored eight runs in their first four games of the year, all against quality teams with top pitchers.
Vanderpool said the last couple games, “It still is a hard adjustment to make going from what we saw the first four games to the last two,” Vanderpool said. “Facing a girl like they had at Noblesville, or someone like (Jessica) Weaver from Lebanon, then going to what we have seen the last two games is a big adjustment. In the Lafayette Jeff game on Saturday, it took us a couple innings to adjust, but once we did we got going. Today, we were able to make the adjustment a little earlier.”
The Stars’ offense got going with a big second inning.
Alayna Raby started the rally with a 1-out single, and scored two batters later on a single by Shelby Medley.
The Bulldogs appeared to get out of the inning on the next batter, but Luci Evans reached on a dropped third strike to keep the inning alive. Camryn Savage followed with an RBI-single to make it 2-0, before Olivia Hole hit a 2-run double to double the lead.
Taylor Vanderpool was hit by a pitch and Briley Burns reached via error, loading the bases with two outs for Julia Hole, who hit a 2-run single to make it 6-0. Raby followed with an RBI-single of her own before Hole and Raby worked their way around the bases to score on passed balls.
The Bulldogs scored a run in the third, but the Stars added two of their own in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Savage and a passed ball that scored Evans.
Clinton Central added one more in the fifth, but would get no closer.
After starting the season 0-4, Vanderpool said it was important to get the two wins heading into a week where the Stars will play four conference games.
“These two wins were big to get some momentum going,” Vanderpool said. “We have four big conference games this week, so it was important to some momentum heading into those games.”
Olivia Hole got the start and pitched the first two innings before making way for Heather Clark.
Hole walked three, but gave up just one hit.
Vanderpool said she did a good job of using her strengths.
“Her speed I think overpowered their team a little bit,” Vanderpool said. “She is a little spotty in her spots, but she did a good job keeping the ball down. But the big thing was her speed today.”
The Stars will play Crawfordsville on Tuesday and Thursday, with the away game starting things off today. They will play North Montgomery in a double header on Saturday. They also play Brownsburg on Wednesday.
Vanderpool said the Stars can’t lose focus against teams that on paper they should do well against.
“We have to keep doing what we have been,” Vanderpool said. “Playing some teams that on paper are a little lower, we have to put the ball in play and on the ground. We have to keep the popups to a minimum. Just about any team can catch a pop up, so if we hit it hard on the ground, we will make them earn it.”
WESTERN BOONE’S JULIA HOLE throws the ball back into the infield in the fifth inning on Monday evening.
Photos by Will Willems | The Lebanon Reporter
WESTERN BOONE’S HEATHER CLARK throws a pitch Monday in the Stars’ win over Clinton Central.