The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 27, 2013

Storm’s defense on display

BY ROB WITZEL
Commercial-News

CATLIN — It’s not often that a team scores 15 runs in a softball game, and credits the strong defense showing for the win. That was the case however as the Salt Fork Storm girls softball team earned the 15-3 win over the Armstrong Potomac Lady Trojans in five innings.

With 15 runs, 14 hits and every starter scoring a run, the Salt Fork offense was downright fantastic. But with great pitching from Kalyn Learnard and good fundamental defense behind her, the Storm held the Lady Trojans to just three runs on seven hits and no errors.

“I think most of the time our hitting is the key.” Learnard said.”But today are fielding was really good too”

“We were fired up with how we played defensively,” centerfielder Jenna Bryant added.

Bryant had the most impressive play of the game. In what would be the final at-bat, the team’s only senior made a running, shoe string catch that ended with a roll into the outfield grass. She also led the team in hitting going 2-for-4 with a single, a triple, and four RBIs.

“Our hitting was a lot better than I thought it would be, especially with the little struggle we’ve had recently,” Bryant said.

The secret to Salt Fork’s hitting success isn’t much of a secret at all. Simply put: focus on one at-bat at a time, make contact, get on base, and go from there.

“We don’t focus on the score; we focus on making hard hits.” Storm coach Kali Ford said. “We’re looking for the base hits, not homeruns. I talk to the girls about driving the ball. We try to hit the ball hard and run hard around the bases.”

This strategy seemed to work well Friday afternoon as the Storm scored six runs in the first inning, five more in the second, and four runs in the fourth.

The Lady Trojans had a few drives put together. They took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, and scored one more run in the second and another in the third. The Trojans struggled to keep up offensively and with four errors had difficulty making plays defensively

“It comes down to routine plays,” Trojans coach Brian Russell said. “Salt Fork is going to hit the ball, they’re a good team. When they put the ball in play where we can make outs, we need to make those outs. We were down two seniors with injuries but that’s not an excuse. We didn’t make the plays.”

Russell believes this loss could be a good thing and a turning point late in the season, but it’s up to his players to decide.

“The girls are going to decide where we go from here,” Russell said. “We can work hard and get better, or go the other way. We have six games left and I believe we are mentally tough enough to finish strong.”