By Mike Deak
BOURBON – Neither team had really been in the position it found itself in Monday afternoon. In what became a pitchers dual at Keyser Field, Tippecanoe Valley did the little things to grab a 4-1 softball win over host Triton.
In a early sampling of a season where Tippecanoe Valley had scored 38 runs in its first two wins before spring break, and Triton had plated 38 in its past two games in the last five days, it was just a 1-1 game in the sixth inning.
An RBI double by Valley’s Madi Smith in the fifth inning broke the scoreless tie, bringing home Kayleena Agnew. But Triton countered with two singles from Jolie Groves and Lauren Snyder in the bottom half of the inning, and after an E3 to load the bases, Macy Kirchenstien had her one big blunder by plunking Hannah Snyder with a pitch to bring home the tying run.
Kirchenstien would work out of the trouble, getting a nice pick at first from Mercedes Snapp then coaxing a force at home to end the threat.
Molly Moriarty then stepped to the plate to open the sixth and parked her second homer of the spring, giving the Vikings a 2-1 lead.
“Molly’s homer was huge for us, that seemed to loosen us up a lot,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Brittany Mathias. “We were without Brayden Baney tonight, she was stranded in Florida with a flight problem, and I don’t know if her not being here messed with some of the girl’s heads or what. But it took us a long time to get going at the plate, and Molly’s hit was just what we needed. Everyone seemed to relax after that.”
Valley would tack on two runs in the seventh on some head’s up ball. Snapp opened the seventh with a fly ball to left, but Erin Ogle’s basket catch attempt bounced away. After a pair of wild pitches moved Snapp to third, Kayleena Agnew doubled Snapp home. Agnew advanced to third on Lena Doll’s third wild pitch of the inning, and after Smith walked, she kept running, drawing a throw from Triton. That allowed Agnew to come home for an extra, planned run, and a three-run cushion.
Kirchenstien worked through a quick seventh to secure the win, allowing five hits and fanning seven. Doll struck out 12 Vikings in her complete game for Triton, giving up just three hits, but the homer to Moriarty and double to Agnew were backbreakers.
“Those plays, like the drop in left field, we have to have that,” said Triton head coach Shannon Houlihan, whose club falls to 2-2 overall. “A good, ol’ fashioned pitchers dual, and when we are in a game like that, one error, or throwing the ball around on that steal of home, those things will kill you. We are still learning. Otherwise we played a really nice game for about five innings.”
Valley moves to 3-0 on the season, and while the wins have come in different varieties now for the Vikings, Mathias wasn’t happy with the strikeout totals as well as some of the indecision at the plate.
“We haven’t struck out like that all season, and then have 12 today,” said Mathias, whose club was credited with just one offensive punchout in its first two games. “We made some bad decisions on pitches out of the zone, just didn’t have good at bats for the first few innings. I think as we wore on, some of the girls snapped out of it, and we started playing aggressive softball again.”