The hits just kept on coming for Floyd Central.
The No. 16 Highlanders exploded for eight first-inning runs and overpowered Seymour 16-3 in five innings during the opening game of the Class 4-A softball sectional Monday afternoon at Jeffersonville.
Floyd Central advanced to meet Bedford North Lawrence, a 6-3 winner over Jeffersonville in the second game, today at 6. No. 21 New Albany will face No. 15 Jennings County in the second semifinal, with those winners colliding in the final on Thursday at 6.
The Highlanders (21-5) started the defense of their sectional title by giving two runs. Seymour (14-14) played “small ball,” with five of the first six Owls bunting and testing Floyd’s infield defense. But when Floyd countered with power (Katelin Dreher’s three-run home run) and patience to attack their favorite pitch, the avalanche was devastating.
“We’ve been very excited to get to the plate,” first-year Floyd coach Scott Castleberry said. “So I knew we had runs in us. They selected their pitches and drove the ball hard.”
Floyd had already conquered Seymour twice, but the 5-0 and 1-0 decisions (the latter in the consolation round of the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament) gave little warning for the onslaught.
The Highlanders erased the Seymour lead with only three batters against freshman hurler Faith Laiz, who quieted Floyd’s offense in the last encounter. But Gabbi Jenkins walked, Regan Hadley singled to right-center, and Dreher hammered a ball over the center-field fence.
The Highlanders weren’t done. Seymour switched pitchers, but it didn’t matter. The next five Floyd hitters reached, with Morgan Harper adding an RBI single and Kassie King following with a two-run single. Floyd sent 13 batters to the plate.
“They told me on the way over here they were confident they would hit the ball,” Castleberry said. “They showed it. If we hit like that, we can go pretty far in this thing.”
Floyd scored six more runs in the second — all after the first two batters were retired. The big blow was Dreher’s bases-loaded double. She was 3 for 3 with six RBIs.
“In the first inning, a lot can happen,” Dreher said. “I think we proved ourselves tonight.”
Caroline Cato also had three hits, and she earned the win in the circle, improving to 14-4.
* BNL 6, Jeffersonville 3: Down to their last strike in the top of the seventh, the Stars exploded for four runs to shock the Red Devils (14-9).
BNL’s Kaci Ikerd cracked a double to deep center to score Justice Kline and force a 3-3 deadlock. Rebecca Schoenung followed with a single, and the Devils misplayed Mackenzie Silvers’ deep drive to right-center to allow the go-ahead run. Cassidy Morron whacked a RBI double to add insurance runs off Emily Gray, who didn’t allow a hit in four relief innings until the rally.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Jeffersonville coach Joni Bradley said. “We played a great 62⁄3 innings, and then we just fell apart. Things just didn’t fall out way. Sometimes that happens.”
Jeffersonville scored all its runs in the fourth, erasing BNL’s 2-0 lead, as Marley Edwards had a two-run single and Emma Coons drove in the go-ahead run with a single to deep right-center.
Coons had two hits for the Devils, while Kline, Ikerd, Schoenung and Silvers all had two hits for the Stars (15-13). Silvers earned the win with 31⁄3 innings in relief.
Seymour …201 00 – 3 8 2
Floyd Central …862 0x – 16 15 0
WP – Caroline Cato (14-4). LP – Faith Laiz. 2B – Caroline Cato, Morgan Harper, Katelin Dreher (FC).HR – Katelin Dreher (FC). Records – Seymour 14-14, Floyd Central 21-5.
Bedford NL …101 000 4 – 7 9 2
Jeffersonville …000 300 x – 3 8 2
WP – Mackenzie Silvers. LP – Emily Gray. 2B – Justice Kline, Kaci Ikerd, Cassidy Morron (BNL), Janel Nelson (J). Records – BNL 15-13, Jeffersonville 14-9.