By Jason Haddix
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
The Pendleton Heights softball team was faced with something on Monday night it had not been faced with the past few games — a tightly contested battle.
“It shows the kind of team we are,” PH coach Rob Davis said. “We are a team that is going to battle.”
Pendleton Heights defended its home field and prevailed 4-0 over the Anderson Indians on the shoulders of starting pitcher Brooke Wendling and the Arabians’ defense.
“Brooke is going to get the fly ball, and we are going to have to play defense behind her,” Davis said. “Morgan Hubble made a couple great plays. We work on diving plays in the gym with mats. Elizabeth Sigler also made a great catch.”
The Arabians had 19 putouts, eight by way of the fly ball and 11 on the ground.
Pendleton Heights jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after a slow start by the Indians’ pitcher and her teammates on defense. The speedy Heather Wendling hit soft grounder to third, and an errant throw by Anderson’s Kaylie Qualls allowed Sarah Dixon to score from second after a leadoff walk and stolen base.
Heather Wendling advanced to third on the throw, and then scored on an RBI-groundout by Delilah Wright.
“Getting runs early makes it less stressful on me.” Brooke Wendling said. “When it gets down to the wire ... it is hard to focus all of the time.”
Down 2-0, Anderson starter Sydney Schmitt buckled down and held the Arabians scoreless over the next four innings.
“Give (Schmitt) credit,” Davis said of the sophomore pitcher. “Her ball is moving more than people think. She did an outstanding job keeping us off balance.”
He added that the Arabians are a better hitting team when facing a hard-throwing pitcher. Davis described Schmitt as an off-speed thrower who forced his hitters to hit her pitch.
She gave up six hits over six innings, with three earned runs. Her pitching gave the Indians a chance to get back in the game.
Two Anderson runners reached base during each the third and fifth innings, with its best opportunity to score coming in the latter. Runners were on first and second base with one out when back-to-back groundouts by the top-two batters in the order left them stranded.
“They were hitting it well, and I was getting concerned,” Brooke Wendling said. “I was getting concerned and hoped the offense would put up some insurance runs.”
She got her wish when the Arabians plated two runs in the sixth.
No player on either team was able to record multiple hits during this pitchers’ duel.
“We are coming off the Madison County tournament flying high, and I think we looked a little tired and flat,” Davis said. “We play night after night, and it is hard to get up for every game, and this is one they probably took lightly.”
The win takes PH to 10-0, the best start during Davis’ three-year tenure.