DANVILLE — Sometimes a ball team struggles with figuring out a different pitcher the first time through the order. Then, the second time around, they figure out the pitcher’s speed and the walls come crashing down.
That’s what happened with the Danville softball team Thursday. The Blue Devils struggled the first time through the order, then exploded the second time and cruised to a 10-0 victory over Grove City Christian in Division IV Sectional Tournament play at Danville.
“The second time around, we finally timed the pitcher,” said Danville coach Mike Beheler. “We learned our lesson — we have to be patient. Then we started pounding it.”
After two innings where neither team scored, Danville got it going in the third when Tracy Payne reached on an error. Kayleigh Conner followed with a double and Hannah Matheny added a run-scoring single to give the Blue Devils (8-11) a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, the river opened up and the runs came in gushes. With one out, Trisha Pattison smacked a single, then moved to second and then third on wild pitches. Molly Pugh hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who tried to nab Pattison at home. The catcher then threw the ball away when Pattison returned to third and the Devils had a run.
That’s when the flood-gates opened wide.
Payne followed with an RBI single, Conner smacked a single, Matheny cracked her second double of the game and Ashlee Townsend had a single. Morgan Lauderbaugh reached on an error and Katelyn Mills smacked a double off the left-center field fence. Two walks and the Devils had the bases loaded and seven runs already on the board in the inning.
Kelsey Howard came on to pitch for Grove City Christian (16-8) and was able to coax a ground ball out from Payne to stop the bleeding momentarily.
“It was nice to score some runs. We’re not normally a high scoring team,” said Beheler.
Danville was finally able to invoke the mercy rule in the sixth when Megan Iverson reached on an error, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jessica Francis.
Matheny finished the night with two doubles and a single to lead the Blue Devils. Conner added a double and a single, while Mills had a double and Payne, Townsend, Francis and Pattison all singled.
The Devils once again got strong pitching on the night. Matheny started, striking out four and allowing just one hit in four innings of work. Jennifer Mickley followed up with two strong innings, striking out one.
“Hannah’s been strong all year and Jen has really come on at the end of the year,” Beheler said. “I didn’t think they (GCC) were going to hit them. They haven’t seen that type of pitching. Our pitching has been solid all year.”
The win puts the Blue Devils into district play for the fourth straight year. They will take on the winner of the Millersport-Fisher Catholic game on Monday at 5 p.m. at Pickerington Central.
“I’m pretty sure the girls know the district is a different style. They’ve got to be ready to play,” said Beheler. “We love going to Pickerington. It’s like a second home for us. The girls won’t be satisfied with anything less than winning the district. That’s up to them now to do it.”
But first, the Devils will finish up a game with rival East Knox on Friday. The game will resume in the fifth inning with the score 4-3.