Slappers Farris, Borges help out sluggers for Pioneer softball
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
CHALMERS –- When one thinks of the Pioneer softball team, the first players that come to mind might be the sluggers.
But what about the slappers?
Though Hailey Cripe, Hailey Gotshall and Mackenzie Walker have combined for 53 home runs, left-handed hitting slap hitters Kylie Farris and Brooklyn Borges counterbalance them. Farris is hitting .468 out of the leadoff spot in the batting order, and Borges has returned from a knee injury that forced her out of the lineup for two weeks and is hitting .474.
Farris and Borges will share the state’s biggest stage with their slugging teammates at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Center Grove when the top-ranked Lady Panthers take on No. 10 Sullivan in the Class 2A state championship game.
Farris went 3 for 9 with three RBIs in semistate wins over Frankton and Fairfield Saturday. Borges missed over two weeks with a knee injury, including the first sectional game against Rensselaer on May 24, but has gone 8 for 19 (.421) with four RBIs in five state tournament games since her return..
Farris also took a pitch off the knee in the Wheeler game in the regional on June 1 and was down for several minutes, but she never left the game.
“It was a little tight for a couple days, but it’s good now,” Farris said.
Farris, a junior, has also shown off her defensive versatility. She started this season as a second baseman, but coach Gabrielle Thomas put Farris in center field for the Twin Lakes tournament on May 7-8. Pioneer won the tournament, and Farris had found a new home.
“I had played left field my freshman year, and then when Haley Gleitz got hurt in the middle of the season, I went to second base because that’s where I played for travel ball,” Farris said. “But then I loved back out to left field for the tournament because Haley Gleitz was obviously back. But then this year, I started out at second base, but we were having a hard time finding a good fit with our outfielders, so then (coach Gabrielle Thomas) tried me in center field at Twin Lakes, and it just clicked, and that seemed to work really good.”
Farris said she does not play travel ball anymore. She used to play for the Royal Center-based Pink Panthers and the Indianapolis-based Gators.
“It just lets you see some of the better pitchers and get more experience, more games, more at-bats, more realistic reps,” Farris said.
Farris was a member of the volleyball and softball teams that were both state runners-up during the 2018-19 school year and is seeking her first state title herself.
Meanwhile, Borges, a freshman, still doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a state tournament contest. She has already won state titles earlier this year as a member of both the volleyball and basketball teams.
“It’s kind of a different group of girls,” Borges said. “I wouldn’t say it’s different, but it feels the same. Same feeling.”
Borges hurt her knee sliding into home against Western on May 11.
“I knew I’d be fine,” Borges said. “I wasn’t too worried. I just knew the doctor, whatever he said, that I would be fine and would be back.”
Borges said she looks up to her sister Ally, a 2020 Rochester grad who lost her senior softball season to the coronavirus pandemic. Ally Borges was a first-team all-conference player in 2018 and 2019.
While Brooklyn Borges is a slap hitter, Ally Borges was a right-handed hitting slugger.
“A lot,” Brooklyn said when asked how much she looks up to her sister. “She gives me a lot of good advice. Even though we don’t hit the same – she’s more of a power hitter – we still have the same mindset. She was a catcher. She tells me how they’re going to pitch to me and gives me those kinds of skills.”
Brooklyn Borges said she started slapping three years ago. Her travel coach Ashley Parker taught her how to slap. Then she stopped playing. This is her first year back playing.
“I couldn’t hit right-handed,” Brooklyn said. “I was not fast, but I could place the ball, so I moved to slapping.”
She said it was hard to re-learn slapping but has grown more accustomed to it.
“I can just tell off the pop of my bat if it’s good,” Borges said. “And I can read the defense better than I have ever before. That’s helping me a lot.”
Defensively, Borges enjoyed playing behind Gotshall at the semistate. Gotshall threw 14 scoreless innings with one walk and 21 strikeouts in two games.
“It’s amazing,” Borges said. “You don’t have to worry about anything. And if you do, the defense has got it. It’s fine.”
Kylie Farris Brooklyn Borges
The Pioneer softball team poses with the Class 2A semistate trophy after beating Fairfield 7-0 at Frontier High School Saturday. Seniors, from left, Mackenzie Walker, Madison Blickenstaff and Hailey Gotshall sit with the trophy.