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  • Val T.

Logans heroes: Sisters combine for 4 hits, 4 RBIs as Caston beats Pioneer again


Sports Editor, RTC

FULTON — The Pioneer softball team’s two-strike approach against pitcher Kinzie Mollenkopf might have been effective in their game at Caston on May 16, but the Lady Comets still secured the win to move within another Hoosier North title.

Kylee Logan had two hits and three RBIs, and older sister Haley Logan also had two hits and drove in a run as Caston won 11-5. Mollenkopf also had two hits and two RBIs at the plate.

This marked the second straight year that Caston has beaten Pioneer, a first in school history. Mollenkopf and the Lady Comets also won in Royal Center 6-5 last year to clinch the conference title.

This win clinches a share of the Hoosier North title for Caston, who improved to 16-4 overall and 6-0 in the conference.

“It was a good team effort,” Mollenkopf said. “We came here, and we really just wanted to win because they’re just our rival. So therefore, we just have this little thing about us: Every time we play Pioneer, we want to win. Obviously, they want to beat us, but I mean, it’s been a great team effort, and we have a good team this year, and I’m thankful for that.”

Kylie Attinger had three hits and two runs scored for Pioneer, who fell to 15-12 and finished conference play 5-2. Kamryn Newby had two hits and an RBI, and Emma Sells also had two hits. Jocelynn Vincent had three RBIs, and Crystabelle Blickenstaff and Ava Beasy also had RBIs.

Caston led 5-0 after two innings and never trailed.

Both teams had 10 hits. All of Pioneer’s hits were singles.

Pioneer would get within 6-4 after scoring three runs in the top of the fifth, but Caston answered with five in the bottom half. Three of the runs were unearned after a two-out Pioneer error.

Macee Hinderlider had an RBI single, Addison Zimpleman had an RBI groundout to third, Isabel Scales reached on an error that allowed Hinderlider to score, Mollenkopf made it 10-4 with an RBI double, and Kylee Logan had an RBI single to make it 11-4.

“She’s filling that four hole beautifully,” Caston coach Jon Burks said of freshman catcher Kylee Logan. “RBIs, hits … She’s come right around.”

Vincent’s RBI grounder to second base in the seventh completed the scoring, but Mollenkopf retired Newby on a pop to first to end it.

Mollenkopf struck out a season-high 14 against Oak Hill in a 6-3 win four days earlier. She had reached double figures in strikeouts six times this season prior to this game. She struck out nine against Pioneer last year.

But in this game, she tied her season low with three strikeouts. She also gave up 10 hits, walked two and hit two batters.

Pioneer coach Gabby Thomas said that Caston played with more enthusiasm and joy. On the other hand, she said that she liked how frequently the hitters made contact.

“They went out there, and we put the ball in play,” Thomas said. “We go to a two-strike approach, and just putting the ball in play and making the defense have to work and make that play is crucial. So I’m very pleased with how we did that, and we made them field the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball.”

Mollenkopf said she needs to “tighten up some things” before sectionals, but she also said she never got frustrated.

“I had faith in my team that they were going to play behind me, and I knew they were going to hit,” Mollenkopf said. “They’re a good hitting team, and you just had to play what they threw at us.”

Hinderlider said this game might have put a spotlight on an aspect of Caston’s team that gets overlooked.

“I think our defense is really good,” Hinderlider said. “It really pulls through in some of the games and keeps us in tact, and I think that’s what holds us together honestly.”

Burks said many of Pioneer’s hits were well-placed. He even tried a five-man infield to combat Pioneer’s offensive approach.

“Basically, she was just missing her location a little bit, and you know, I call them duck snorts, if you want to call them hits, I guess it is,” Burks said. “But slap-and-tickles or whatever you want to call them. But I guess they’re hits in the book. I mean, she was missing (her) location. … Knox was the same way. They just throw their bat out there and hope for the best.

“We threw that five-man in just to throw some reverse psychology on them. … But Kinzie pitched very well tonight. She was off a little bit, but I think it was a little bit of the jitters, but we responded with our offense, which I figured we would.”

Caston was able to produce against a patchwork Pioneer pitching staff that was missing Tiara Denny (wrist) and Shaylee Goings (ribcage) due to injury. Blickenstaff, Sells and Cripe all got time in the circle against Caston.

Mollenkopf singled with two outs in the first off Pioneer starter Blickenstaff and went to second when Kylee Logan reached on an error. Alexa Finke then delivered an RBI single.

In the second, Blickenstaff hit Harness with a pitch, and Haley Logan ripped a double to score Harness. Hinderlider walked, and Zimpleman grounded into a forceout.

Scales had an RBI single, Mollenkopf had an RBI grounder to short, and Kylee Logan had an RBI bloop single to make it 5-0.

Beasy had a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth, but Scales and Mollenkopf drew back-to-back walks, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Kylee Logan’s groundout to second base to make it 6-1.

Three straight singles from Hollie Zellers, Sells and Attinger loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth. Mollenkopf slipped a called third strike past Adeline Cripe but then hit Blickenstaff with a pitch to make it 6-2.

Vincent then grounded to second, scoring Sells from third and a hustling Attinger from second to make it 6-4. Newby then bunted for a hit, but Blickenstaff was thrown out trying to score from second.

“It’s next man up,” Thomas said. “I just talked to my pitchers. They did exactly what they needed to do to help us try to win a ballgame. We’ve just got to play more solid defense behind them. Yeah, we had 10 hits, but you’ve got to string them together, and they’ve got to be timely.”

This was also senior night, and Mollenkopf and Harness were honored before the game.

“I love our seniors honestly,” Hinderlider said. “I wish they weren’t going, but they have to go, and they have to continue on with their lives and move on, but honestly, this game was for them and for senior night.”

Caston 11, Pioneer 5

Pioneer 000 130 1 – 5 10 2

Caston 140 150 X – 11 10 0

WP – Kinzie Mollenkopf (7 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 3 K)

LP – Crystabelle Blickenstaff (1 ⅓ IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 0 K)

2B – Haley Logan (CAS), Kinzie Mollenkopf (CAS)

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