When the loss column outweighs the win column by four, and your team is still receiving votes for the top 25 in a statewide softball coaches’ poll, it means you’ve played a ridiculous schedule.
In addition to paying iron-sharpens-iron dividends, those tactics also are likely to catch one or two opponents napping. All those elements were on display Tuesday in Scott County’s impressive 5-1 win over Pleasure Ridge Park at Lois Holmes Field.
“I think it’s a big confidence boost,” said Ada Little, SC’s eighth-grade pitching ace. “This was kind of a last-minute thing, and I think we needed it. Right here is where we want to start a streak.”
Little allowed only three hits without allowing an earned run. Back-to-back strikeouts at the finish gave her 11 on the evening.
“She’s holding her own for sure,” SC coach Billy James said. “I just looked today, and I think she’s number nine in the state for strikeouts. Her riseball was over the fence tonight a little bit. I only called riseball about three times. That was just high, inside fastballs.”
A hard-throwing left-hander, Little stayed ahead of PRP hitters and climbed the ladder with consistent success.
PRP (5-4) fanned twice in the first, second, fifth, sixth and seventh frames. SC also doused an attempted steal and turned a double play behind Little.
“The high, inside fastball is where you can get a lot of players,” Little said. “They think it’s coming inside, and it just moves up. That’s where a lot of them have their weakness, the high pitches.”
Little has pitched 79 of the 84 innings for a Cardinals’ staff without an ounce of prior varsity experience.
James also has used Belle Banner (seventh grade), Amanda Harmon (eighth grade) and Taylor Reid (freshman) in spots.
“It’s understanding the game to a different level. Coming from last year where we were going to play JV, now coming up to the top level of high school, you’re playing against seniors and juniors,” Little said. “It’s definitely difficult, but I feel like mentally I’m prepared. The more you do it, the more comfortable you are with it.”
The verdict ended both a five-game winning streak by the Panthers and a three-game skid for the Cardinals. Scott County already has played six games against teams in the top 25.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this tough, but I’m OK with it,” James said. “I know in the end it will help us out.”
Kaylie Wise and Ellie Price combined for five of SC’s seven hits. Lexie Roby and Kenley Ison each had a hit and an RBI, highlighted by Roby’s fourth home run of the spring. McKenzie Quinn also knocked in a run.
SC left a total of five runners on base through the first three innings before breaking through in the fourth. Price singled, stole second, raced to third on a passed ball and scored on Quinn’s groundout.
Roby’s solo no-doubter to left made it 2-0 in the fifth. Wise later doubled, and Delaney Vaughn reached on an error. They scored on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly by Ison, respectively.
The Cards used a dropped third strike, a walk and another error to plate an insurance run in the sixth.
It’s back to the grind against Collins, Mercy and Madison Southern in the Birds’ Nest Classic this weekend. Two are rematches of games the Cards lost by slim margins.
“We’re Jekyll and Hyde,” James said. “(Some opponents) just look at us as another team. I’m hoping that’s going to pay off in the end.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.