Highlanders and Panthers combine for 17 runs on 27 hits
FLOYDS KNOBS — The Floyd Central High School softball team used its speed to build an eight-run cushion and then held its collective breath as the Highlanders survived a late rally by visiting Jennings County for a 10-7 win Tuesday night in their Hoosier Hills Conference opener.
The teams, two of the top programs in the conference, showed their prowess a the plate, combining for 27 hits and 17 runs.
The Highlanders (10-3, 1-0) got off to a quick start, scoring five runs in the first inning before adding four more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. They led 9-1 before the Panthers came roaring back in the sixth inning.
“It’s not what we anticipated but Jennings County is always a tough team,” Floyd Central coach Troy Striegel said of watching an eight-run lead nearly disappear. “They always fight.”
In the first inning, The Highlanders lead-off hitter, the speedy Taylor Castleberry, reached on an infield hit to third base. She then scored when Jensen Striegel placed down a bunt and Jennings County pitcher Bug Donnell fielded the ball and threw wildly past first base into right field.
After Gabbi Jenkins grounded out to shortstop, Striegel scored from third base and Floyd Central led 2-0.
The inning continued with two singles, a double by Dallas Henderson and a hit batter as the Highlanders scored three more and led 5-0.
“We took advantage of some of their miscues in the first inning and tried to jump on them early,” Troy Striegel said.
Panthers coach Steve Vanosdol said the Panthers left the door open for the Highlanders.
“Defensively, we’ve been sloppy, even in practice,” Vanosdol said. “It’s something we need to clean up and work on. Floyd Central puts a lot of pressure on you. . . Their speed causes issues and that’s what happened. . . They’re very talented.”
After Jennings County (1-1, 0-1) scored a single run in the top of the fourth inning — on a double by Sidney Gerkin and an RBI-single by Mackenzie Byram — the Highlanders added to the cushion.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Floyd Central’s first five batters reached on singles from Cassie Thomerson, Lexie Heeke and Paige Meyer, a double by Henderson and Castleberry on a throwing error. In all, four runners crossed the plate and the Highlanders led 9-1.
The eight-run lead didn’t last long as the Panthers came storming back with six runs in the top of the sixth inning, keyed by a three-run homer from freshman Gabby Mahoney, whose hit just cleared the fence in left field.
“We know we can hit the ball,” Vanosdol said.
Floyd Central added one insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning as Jenkins reached on an error and eventually scored from third base as Thomerson delivered a single to left field.