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Moore perfect as Titans defeat Panthers in five

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Tri pitcher Payton Moore (9) fires the ball toward the plate as shortstop Kaley Harrison (17) and left fielder Chloe Gentry (15) look on during Monday evening’s TEC softball game at host Knightstown. Moore hurled a perfect game and struck out 10 Panther batters in the Titans’ 12-0 win in five innings.
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Knightstown pitcher Sidney Vise (31) hurls the ball toward the plate as shortstop Cara Mullen (25) watches during Monday evening’s high school softball game against visiting Tri. Vise retired the Titans 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning, but it was tough sledding the rest of the way as the host Panthers fell 12-0 in five innings.
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Tri catcher Abi Busby lashes a double in the top of the fourth inning of Monday evening’s TEC softball game at Knightstown. Busby was 2-for-3 from the plate with two RBI in the Titans’ 12-0 victory in five innings over the host Panthers.
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Kierstyn Conyers of the Tri High School softball team takes a pitch for a ball during Monday evening’s softball game at Knightstown. Conyers, the area’s leading hitter, was 3-for-3 at the plate plus a walk and scored two runs in the Titans’ 12-0 victory in five innings over the host Panthers.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

KNIGHTSTOWN — Peyton Moore, senior pitcher for the Class A No. 1 Tri High school softball team, has hurled a number of excellent games over her four-year career, but few could top what she accomplished Monday evening against Henry County rival and host Knightstown.

Moore retired all 15 batters she faced for a perfect game and her teammates gave her a ton of offensive support after the first inning, as the visiting Titans rolled past the Panthers 12-0 in a game that ended after five innings under the 10-run rule.

Tri improved to 6-1 in the Tri-Eastern Conference and 17-2 for the season. Knightstown saw its five-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 4-3 in the TEC and 11-10 overall.

“We had not been hitting the ball particularly well lately,” Tri Co-Coach Duke Falck said afterward, “especially when we needed timely hits. But today we really stung the ball and strung together a bunch of hits when we needed them. When Payton pitches like this, we don’t need a lot of runs, but it was nice to give her that support, and we played well defensively.”

Moore’s gem was very similar to the game she pitched against Class A No. 2 Cambridge City Lincoln May 4, in which she struck out 13 Golden Eagle batters in 7 2/3 innings and Tri lost 1-0 on an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth inning for its only conference defeat.

Monday, Moore fanned 10 Panther batters and only five managed to put the ball into play. Tri’s fielders handled all those chances flawlessly. The only ball hit by the hosts that reached the outfield was a fly to right field by senior Allyson Hauk that was caught by Kassidy Stewart in the bottom of the third inning.

“I’ve been pitching pretty well lately, my team has my back, and we hit the ball really well today,” Moore said afterward. “We’re trying to finish second in the conference, and no Tri softball team has ever finished as high as that.”

Knightstown’s Sidney Vise started in the circle and retired the Titans 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning, but the Tri onslaught began with three unearned runs off her in the top of the second.

Kierstyn Conyers led off the frame with a single to right field. One out later, a fielding error resulted from Chloe Gentry’s ground ball. Abi Busby followed with a single to centerfield and Conyers scored. Cheyenne Lee came in to run for Busby, and she and Gentry moved up a base on a throwing error.

Breanna Reece lined a single to left field to plate Gentry with Lee moving to third. Stewart’s single to left field drove in Lee for a 3-0 Titan advantage. Vise struck out the next two batters to end the inning and avoid further damage.

Tri added a run in the top of the third. Lauren Bouslog led off by drawing a four-pitch walk from Vise. Conyers single to left field and Gentry hit a bloop single into short left field one out later to fill the sacks.

Busby followed with a sacrifice fly and RBI by driving the ball to the centerfielder to plate Bouslog for a 4-0 lead for the visitors.

The next batter grounded out to end the inning.

The Titans effectively put the game in their pockets with six runs in the top of the fourth inning, and all scored with two outs. Stewart led off with a bad-hop single and Destiny Taylor walked on a 3-2 pitch. Moore’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position.

The next batter was retired on a ground ball for the second out, but Conyers walked and Stewart scored on a wild pitch on the final ball. Kaley Harrison, who had been 0-for-2 up to this point, lashed a double to centerfield that drove in Taylor with Conyers stopping at third base.

Gentry rapped a single to left centerfield that plated Conyers and Harrison, and took second base when the ball got past the outfielder. Busby’s double to right centerfield drove in Gentry and Lee came in to run for her again.

Reece followed with a double to centerfield and Lee crossed the plate for a 10-0 Tri advantage. Vise struck out the next batter to end the inning.

“Give them credit,” Knightstown Coach Bret Mann said. “They’re a really good team, their pitcher threw well, and once they got the lead, they became more relaxed and were free-swinging. We don’t have the hitting we had last year, and we just couldn’t put the ball into play against them. We also helped them out with a few misplays in the field. But we’ll put this game in the past and move on to the rest of the season and the tournament.”

The Titans added a couple more runs in the top of the fifth inning, both unearned, off Courtney Carlton, who had come into relieve Vise in the pitcher’s circle.

With one out, Moore executed a perfect bunt for a hit. Bouslog’s ground ball was muffed for an error and Moore took second base. Conyers hit the ball hard for a single to centerfield, driving in Moore with Bouslog reaching third base and Conyers taking second on an error.

Harrison’s single to left field plated Bouslog for a 12-0 lead with Conyers stopping at third base. Conyers was tagged out at home on Gentry’s fielder’s choice grounder for the second out.

The Panthers’ play of the game came next when second baseman Trinidie Newby leaped high and made a great catch to rob Busby of another hit for the third out to end the inning.

Moore recorded a strikeout and two ground balls to retire Knightstown in the last of the fifth inning and end the game after an elapsed time of only 1:19.