The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 3, 2013

Tigers pour on offense

BY AARON PATTERSON
Commercial-News

WESTVILLE — One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Westville Tigers softball team this season is its offensive production. Head coach Shawn Skinner just can’t figure it out.

Even with the weather preventing the Tigers from seeing live pitching during practice, Skinner knows the talent on his squad, and sees what should result in positive production on game day.

The results have been frustrating, but Westville found a glimpse of light in Wednesday’s 7-1 win over the previously undefeated Armstrong-Potomac Trojans.

“As a team, we are not hitting,” said Skinner. “I don’t understand it. We look fantastic in the cage, we look fantastic going through our drills, and it has not translated into much in our games. But it will. It’s going to happen.”

It started to happen in the fifth inning when Carson Richardson reached on a one-out single to left before Ashley Hoffman eventually drove in two runs on a double to center. Hoffman struck once again in the sixth when she put the Tigers up 7-1 on another two-run hit in the sixth.

The Tigers (2-3 overall, 2-1 in the Vermilion Valley Conference) sent eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth and tallied a total of five hits in their final two frames after managing only three in the first four innings.

“I think that after seeing the pitcher — I know I got a better feel for it after seeing her a couple of innings,” said Hoffman. “I think our dugout helped out with cheering and getting her riled up.”

Armstrong-Potomac pitcher Morgan Zindars (2-1) suffered her first loss of the season after giving up the runs late, and it was her counterpart, Richardson (2-3), who ultimately set the tone for the Tigers’ win.

Coming off of consecutive losses could have been enough to have her on her heels entering the contest, especially against the Trojans (2-1, 2-1) who have scored a combined 13 runs in their two previous contests.

“I think it was just confidence and believing in myself, believing in our team,” Richardson said. “When I came out today, me and coach had a talk and it was throw strikes, get on top, do what you know how to do.

“I know that they’ve put up at least seven runs in their last two games,” she added, “so I just had to get in a rhythm. I believed in my offense, even though we’ve been struggling a little bit. I believed we would get some runs and come back.”

Richardson recorded five strikeouts and walked one while picking up her second win of the season.

Ashley Gayheart scored Armstrong-Potomac’s lone run in the third inning on Megan Porter’s infield single. The Trojans left a total of six runners on base with two in scoring position.

“We squandered some opportunities,” said Armstrong-Potomac coach Brian Russell. “We had some opportunities against her and they made some plays. We just ended up losing focus a little bit, and they capitalized on it.”

Westville allowed only five base runners in the final four innings, and Richardson kept the Trojans off balance throwing 59 of her 86 pitches for strikes.

“Carson threw strikes from the get go, and that makes such a difference in this game,” Skinner said. “If you get a pitcher — and I don’t care if the pitcher throws 60 miles per hour, or 95 miles per hour — if you get a pitcher that throws strikes, this game works.”

The Tigers will try to get it to work again tonight when they are scheduled to host Danville. Westville is then scheduled to go on the road Friday to take on Hoopeston Area. Meanwhile, the Trojans will attempt to rebound when they host Salt Fork on Friday before playing five games next week against Bismarck-Henning, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman, Shiloh, and Oakwood.

“We’re going to find out what we’re made of,” said Russell. “As I told the kids, we’ve just got to keep a positive attitude and keep fighting, and let good things happen.”