While the Western Brown softball team didn’t exactly smack the cover off of the ball on Monday night against visiting Goshen, they were certainly on top of their game when the Lady Warriors were at the plate.
Thanks to seven shutout, one hit innings from sophomore pitcher Morgan Nickell and a stellar defensive performance from her backing teammates, the offense the Lady Broncos were able to generate was more than enough in their 3-0 Southern Buckeye Conference-American Division win.
“Our pitching and defense have been good,” Western Brown coach Blaine Wallace said. “Real good.
“We know early in the year that’s what we gotta do.”
It didn’t take long for the Lady Broncos to get the only run they would end up needing — with a little help from the Lady Warriors.
Bri Stacy reached base to lead off the bottom of the first with a grounder off the shortstop’s glove but was quickly caught stealing by Goshen catcher Bailey Rodgers.
It looked as if Lady Warriors pitcher Kaitlyn Tucker would get out of the inning unscathed after the caught stealing when she struck out Lindsey Harvey and had Nickell swing and miss at a third strike.
Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, the third strike on Nickell got passed the catcher and on to the backstop. It allowed Nickell to safely reach first base when the inning should have been over.
Joes McElroy came up with a line drive over the third baseman’s head drove Nickell in to give the Lady Broncos an early 1-0 lead.
“We gave them two runs,” Goshen coach John Strauss said. “That was a 1-0 game. We gave them two runs on errors.”
In the next inning the Lady Broncos added an insurance run, again with a little help from the Lady Warriors.
On a team full of youth and inexperience it was two veterans who got the big hits when they were needed.
“We’re going to count on them, especially early, we’re going to count on them a lot,” Wallace said.
With Nickell on top of her game, she retired 12 of 13 after giving up a walk to Kelly Parriman to lead off the game, and the Lady Bronco defense giving no extra outs, the Lady Warriors couldn’t muster much more than a base runner.
“We just had a hard time centering up the ball,” Strauss said. “I think we we’re dropping our hands a lot. We hit a lot of balls up in the air. We couldn’t get our easy little bunts down. That’s frustrating as a coach.”
After the Lady Broncos added another insurance run in the fourth inning thanks to one hit and three Goshen errors, Nickell gave up a bloop infield hit to Tricia Murphy.
She quickly recovered, however, as she struck out Emily Lovin and got Lacy Eads to pop out in front of the plate.
Nickell pitched a complete game while striking out eight, walking two and giving up just the one hit.
“She has pitched well all year,” Wallace said.
Her counterpart, Tucker, didn’t pitch all that bad, giving up three runs on five hits while striking out six and walking just one.
“I thought Kaitlyn pitched well,” Strauss said.
Given they have played three solid squads and been in each, Strauss is confident the Lady Warriors (1-2, 1-2 SBC-A) have plenty of time to get going.
“I don’t have anything to feel bad about,” he said. “We’ve been in every game and had the opportunity to compete and to compete at a high level. We’ve played three good teams. So we don’t need to feel bad.”