By Nathan Brown The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Riverfield Major Softball All-Star team manager Seth Kelley said going into Thursday’s opening game of the Indiana State Little League Softball Tournament in Lebanon, he was a little uneasy about how a layoff from competition longer than a month would affect his 11- and 12-year-old players.
After a fairly easy run through the District 6 tournament that ended with a victory in the finals June 5 against Rush County, Riverfield had more than a month off from games.
Kelley made sure to hold practices five days a week to try and keep his girls fresh mentally and physically, but he said his team fell a little flat in Thursday afternoon’s 9-7 loss to South Bend Southeast in the first game of pool play.
“We had a little bit of a letdown,” Kelley said. “I don’t think we were as mentally sharp as we could have been. They came out in the middle half of the game and stuck two or three runs on us, and we weren’t as sharp as we could have been.”
In the top of the second inning, Riverfield was the first team to get on the board with a triple, followed by a fielder’s choice that put it up 1-0. South Bend Southeast, though, came out firing in the bottom half of the inning with four runs of its own, a couple due to some Riverfield errors that Kelley said may have come from the extended time off.
But Riverfield battled back in the top of the fifth inning with four runs of its own to tie the game at 6-6. South Bend answered once again with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, and just a single run was all Kelley’s squad could muster in the top of the sixth to fall two runs short.
The team’s manager noted, though, that he felt like Riverfield got a tough draw to start the tournament, facing a team that he said he thought was one of the two best in the tournament, along with Riverfield, and the South Bend coach agreed.
“The coach shook my hand after the game and said, ‘See you in the semifinals,’” Kelley said.
In the last several years, Riverfield, South Bend Southeast, Lebanon and Fort Wayne have often met up in the semifinals, and even with a loss Thursday, Kelley said making it past pool play certainly wasn’t out of the question. Lebanon and Fort Wayne faced off Thursday too, and Kelley said that just means that two of the top four teams have their work cut out for them. A 3-1 record in pool play would all but confirm a semifinals berth, he said.
“It was disappointing, but I think we’ve got things we can fix, and if that’s as good as we’re going to see, then I’m satisfied that we could have won that game, and we just have to sure up some things, especially defense, and we’ll be right in it,” he said.
Riverfield will play its second pool game today at 4 p.m. in Lebanon against Southport.