YORKTOWN — The New Castle High School softball team traveled to Yorktown Tuesday evening to play the host Class 3A No. 1 Tigers in a Hoosier Heritage Conference game and held a 2-0 advantage exactly halfway through the contest.
However, Yorktown started pounding the ball more and getting on base, and the visiting Trojans couldn’t keep pace. As a result, the Tigers defeated New Castle 11-4 at Yorktown Sports Park.
Yorktown improved to 2-3 in the tough HHC and 14-4 for the season, while the Trojans slipped to records of 0-6 in the conference and 6-15 overall.
Both starting pitchers in the contest, Tiger senior Kaylyn Coahran and New Castle sophomore Madi Moffitt, hurled complete games.
“Madi pitched a heck of a game,” New Castle Head Coach Abbey Renner remarked after the game. “We just have to have her back more. In their (Tigers’) big innings, we had a couple of misplays. That’s something we need to work on.”
The Trojans scored a run in the top of the first inning, but were in position to do more. After the leadoff batter popped up to the first baseman, freshman Kayla Burns singled to left field and Moffitt followed with a ringing double to centerfield.
With both runners in scoring position, Coahran fanned the next batter on five pitches. But Coahran unleashed a wild pitch that enabled Burns to cross the plate for a 1-0 New Castle lead and Moffitt took third base. However, the next batter popped out to the catcher, and the visitors had to settle for the single run.
Moffitt retired Yorktown 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first on two strikeouts and a fly ball to the outfield.
The Trojans added a run to their advantage in the top of the second inning, but again were in position to score more. Coahran whiffed the leadoff batter on five pitches, but walked Katie Cooper on four pitches, Michaela Hamby singled to centerfield, and Coahran plunked Presley Gibson with a 1-2 pitch to load the sacks with the top of the lineup coming to the plate.
Lilly Raines stepped to the plate and grounded the ball to the shortstop, who flicked the ball to the third baseman to force out Hamby, but Cooper scored on the fielder’s choice for a 2-0 New Castle lead.
With runners on first and second base and two away, Coahran induced the next batter to fly out to centerfield for the third out.
Moffitt wiggled out of a jam in the last of the second. Leading off for the Tigers, junior Macie Dowd doubled to the right centerfield fence. Moffitt fanned the next batter swinging on four pitches, but Lexy Morris singled to left field which sent Dowd to third base.
Morris swiped second base, so Yorktown had two runners in scoring position with just one out. But Moffitt bore down, struck out the next batter swinging on six pitches, and induced the one after that to ground out 4-3. So the hosts didn’t score and left two runners in scoring position.
The Trojans’ Hannah Essert walked on a full-count pitch with one out in the top of the third inning and took second base on Chloe Vaughn’s 1-3 groundout. But that was the only baserunner New Castle had in the next three frames as Coahran and the Tigers shut the door on its offense.
Yorktown got a two-out single to left field from Alanah Jones in the bottom of the third and Jones stole second base. But the next batter grounded out to first baseman Cooper to end the inning, and the Tigers still were scoreless.
Halfway through the game (3 1/2 innings), the Trojans still were in front 2-0, but karma turned in the last of the fourth.
Dowd led off with a single to centerfield but was forced out at second base on Savannah Baker’s fielder’s choice grounder. Morris blooped a hit to short left field and Jenna Sylvester walked on five pitches to fill the bags.
Everyone was safe on freshman Ava McNally’s fielder’s choice grounder and Baker crossed the plate for Yorktown’s first run. Jessica Stephenson walked on six pitches, forcing Morris across the plate and tying the contest 2-2.
The sacks still were juiced with the top of the Tiger lineup coming to the plate. Freshman Caitlin LaFerney got an infield hit, plating Sylvester, and a throwing error also allowed McNally to score for a 4-2 Yorktown advantage.
Stephenson was tagged at the plate for the second out while also trying to score on the error. Moffitt then induced the next batter to fly out to right field to retire the side and avoid further damage.
The hosts added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Leading off, Ainsley Phillips singled to left field and moved to second base on a wild pitch. Phillips scored on Dowd’s double to the centerfield fence.
Baker walked after nine pitches. Morris singled to plate Dowd, and an error on the play also enabled Baker to get to third and Morris to take second base. An error on Sylvester’s grounder enabled Baker to score, Morris wound up on third base, and Sylvester took second.
McNally’s sacrifice fly to right field plated Morris and enabled Sylvester to get to third. Sylvester scored on Stephenson’s 1-3 groundout for a 9-2 Tiger advantage, and the next batter grounded out 1-3 to end the inning.
Coahran retired the ninth straight New Castle batter she faced by fanning the leadoff hitter in the top of the sixth inning. Vaughn singled to left field and McKenna Speer came in to run for her. Jayci Reeves beat out a bunt for a hit, so the Trojans had two on with one out.
But Coahran whiffed the next two batters she faced on five and three pitches, respectively, and the visitors left two runners on base.
Jones singled leading off the last of the sixth, and got all the way to third base when the ball got past the outfielder. But Phillips lined to second baseman Hamby, who fired the ball to third baseman Essert to catch Jones off the bag for a double play.
Dowd, a thorn in the Trojans’ side all evening, doubled to right field for her fourth hit of the game, and Baker mashed Moffitt’s next pitch over the right centerfield fence for a two-run homer and 11-2 Yorktown advantage. The next batter flew out to right field to end the inning.
Raines blooped a hit to right centerfield with one out in the top of the seventh inning. The next batter popped up to the second baseman for the second out.
But Moffitt, down 0-2 in the count, absolutely crushed Coahran’s next pitch over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer, pulling New Castle back to within 11-4. It was Moffitt’s eighth dinger of the season, tying her with several other girls for 34th place in the state in that category.
The next batter popped to the shortstop to end the game after 1:50 of playing time had elapsed.
“We’re getting better every game and have improved markedly since the start of the season,” Renner added. “We had some positives in this loss and will continue to work to be playing our best softball come tournament time. We might see them (Tigers) again in the sectional, which would be nice because it would be in the championship game.”
The Trojans travel to Cowan Friday evening and to Northeastern Saturday morning.