DANVILLE — A strong outing from Morgan Lauderbaugh and some timely hits were all the Danville Blue Devils needed to defeat the Centerburg Trojans, 5-1, in Mid-Buckeye Conference softball action on Tuesday. Lauderbaugh gave up just one run on three hits, while Danville banged out nine of its own.
Centerburg (2-18, 0-10 MBC) jumped on top early, scoring its run in the top of the first. The Blue Devils (12-6, 8-2 MBC) answered with two in the bottom of the first, one in the third and two more in the sixth.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” said Danville coach Maryellen Matheny. “If that would have happened the first game of the season or the third game of the season, we would have never won. We are battling a lot better. They are also starting to trust each other. They’re building confidence, and that’s what we’ve lacked.”
For the Trojans, the game was more than just a win or a loss. It was a gauge to measure where they are at in their rebuilding process.
“We’re improving every day,” said Centerburg coach Don Starcher. “Comparing Dec. 1 to now, it is unbelievable. It is night and day. The last time we played (Danville), we lost 13-2 in five innings. This game was closer than the final score. We made some mistakes, and we are young. When we get a little older and more experienced, we’re going to compete with them.”
Centerburg got on top after Kaitlynn Eppich hit a one-out single to left. Eppich moved to second on a fielder’s choice, and then Meghan Altizer hit an RBI single to right-center field to drive her in. That was nearly all the Trojans got off Lauderbaugh, however. She settled down and allowed just one more hit and a walk while striking out six in seven innings.
“Morgan has matured into an awesome pitcher,” coach Matheny said. “She believes in herself and her defense. She is struggling a little at the plate right now, and that’s kind of messing with her a little bit. She has done a good job of recovering, though. I’m really, really proud of her.”
Danville took advantage of six Trojan errors in the game, starting with one that allowed leadoff batter Jessica Blubaugh to reach in the bottom of the first inning. After stealing second, Blubaugh came home on an RBI single by Hannah Matheny. A fielding error on the hit allowed Matheny to reach second, but she was thrown out trying to get to third on the play. Lauderbaugh then grounded out for the second out of the inning, but Danville wasn’t done. Kaleigh Conner and Darci Lauderbaugh hit back-to-back doubles to plate Conner with another run.
Three more Centerburg errors led to another Blue Devil run in the third inning. Matheny reached on a fielding error by Eppich, who then threw the ball into the dugout after rushing the throw to first. That left Matheny on second, and after a stolen base, she came home on another Trojan error. In all, Centerburg made six errors in the game to Danville’s three.
“It is not easy to fix mistakes, but the girls are working hard toward that goal,” Starcher said. “We have to teach them the game. Not only did they not have a program last year, but they did not have the fundamentals of the game down. That’s what we are trying to do — work on getting the fundamentals of the game down. We’re coming along; I’m proud of them.”
Danville finished off the scoring in the bottom of the sixth inning when Schae Frazee reached on a leadoff error. Molly Pugh then doubled to put runners on second and third. Dani Durbin then followed with a single to left, scoring both runs.
Lindsey Mapes took the loss for Centerburg, allowing five runs — one earned — on nine hits and one walk. She also struck out six.
“You always start to get a big smile on your face when you get a lead, but Danville is a really good team,” said Starcher. “For us to play them to a 5-1 game, I’ll take it. We lost 3-1 to Loudonville; we lost 10-3 to Fredericktown on Friday, but we were closer than the score dictated. Like I said at the beginning of the year; every team knows we are here now, and that’s what I want.”
Centerburg is back in action today, playing a makeup game at home against Northridge. Danville, meanwhile, has a day off before finishing a busy week with four straight games.
“Every game is important at this point,” said coach Matheny. “We can’t take anyone for granted. We did against Fredericktown and got beat. Now, we play them again on Thursday. We’ve got to beat Fredericktown, and then Northridge is going to want us. We gave them their only loss.”