BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ROYAL CENTER –- Hailey Gotshall pitched a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts, and Hailey Cripe and Mackenzie Walker hit back-to-back homers as part of an eight-run third inning as the Class 2A, No. 3 Pioneer softball team beat Tippecanoe Valley 17-0 in five innings at Herk Hoffman Field April 27.
Brayden Baney was the only Valley baserunner to get into scoring position. She reached third in the top of the fifth after she was hit by a pitch and stole second and third. But by then, Pioneer had a 17-run lead, and Gotshall fanned Brittany Benn, Mercedes Snapp and Sydney Rhamey to end it.
Corinna Stiles had the Lady Vikings’ only hit when she reached on an infield single in the fourth, beating the throw from a charging Cripe at shortstop.
The rest of the day, Gotshall exhibited pinpoint command.
“She did a good job of keeping the batters off-balance and hitting her spots,” Pioneer coach Gabrielle Thomas said. “So she did really well.”
Cripe, Gotshall, Kylie Farris, Mackenzie Robinson, Brooklyn Borges and Emma Novaski also had multi-hit games as part of Pioneer’s 19-hit attack.
“Just letting it travel a little bit deeper and then driving it back up the middle,” Thomas said of Pioneer’s offensive game plan. “Because we do like to pull the ball a lot, so hitting that back up the middle or hitting that oppo (opposite field).”
Valley pitcher Abby Bowers struck out Walker with runners on second and third in the bottom of the first. But Robinson didn’t let her off the hook, ripping a two-out, two-run double to give the Lady Panthers a 2-0 lead.
Robinson said she was seeing mostly outside pitches from Bowers.
“I knew we had some runners on, so I just needed to move or score my runners because it was early in the game, so we needed to get ahead in the game,” Robinson said.
Valley committed two errors in the second, and each led to a Pioneer run with Vincent scoring on a ball off Gotshall’s bat and Gotshall scoring when a Walker grounder was flubbed.
Then came an eight-run third that not only included Cripe’s long two-run homer to center and Walker’s no-doubter to deep left but also three more Valley errors. Prior to the homers, there was an error on a ball that Vincent hit that scored two runs, an RBI infield single by Farris and an RBI double from Gotshall.
“It’s mental errors,” Valley coach Brittany Mathias said. “I always say ‘ball first,’ and then I would rather you have a consistent throw to first and get it to first than rush and overthrow the ball. So it’s just slowing down but having a quick transition, if that makes sense.”
Valley lost their fifth straight game. The team took extra batting practice before school but had to little to show against Gotshall.
“I don’t think they’re struggling as much confidence-wise,” Mathias said. “Our goal tonight was to have fun the entire game, and they had fun the entire game. My girls are really good at saying what they need. And they needed batting practice, so we met 7 a.m., and we did batting practice in the gym. They are able to say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling at this part, and this is what I really need to work on.’ And we work on it. … I am a huge confidence, staying-positive type person. I always tell them, ‘Hey, stay pumped up. You have to keep your head up. If you keep your head up, you’re always going to be able to succeed.’”
Kortnee Kline, Carlie Morris and Crystabelle Blickenstaff also had RBIs in a five-run fourth.
Pioneer 17, Tippecanoe Valley 0 (5 innings)
Valley 000 00 – 0 1 7
Pioneer 328 5X – 17 19 0
WP – Hailey Gotshall (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 13 K)
LP – Abby Bowers (4 IP, 19 H, 17 R, 13 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 K)
2B – Hailey Gotshall (PIO)
HR – Hailey Cripe (PIO), Mackenzie Walker (PIO)
Pioneer’s Hailey Cripe came into Tuesday’s game against Tippecanoe Valley with a .780 batting average, tops in the state. She improved that average by going 2 for 2 with an infield single and a homer in a 17-0 win in five innings.
Watch full game here: