By Chris Yow
THOMPSONS STATION — Will Tobin found himself with a chance for redemption after surrendering five runs to visiting Spring Hill on Monday night.
With the bases loaded, a full count and two outs, Tobin singled home the decisive run for the Eagles, giving them a 6-5 win to open District 11-AAA play.
Spring Hill pitcher Brantley Whitwell was able to retire the first two hitters of the seventh inning, but an error by second baseman Swoish Ethan allowed Jack Baughman to reach base. Whitwell walked the next two Indy hitters to set up Tobin — who was hitless in the game to that point.
“He’s been a three-year starter for us, and he hit in the ‘2’ hole for the majority of his time. He hasn’t been swinging it well, but hopefully this will get him going,” Independence coach Mike McLaury said.
An early pitchers’ duel was broken open in the fifth inning when the two teams combined for five runs. Spring Hill was the beneficiary of one passed ball and an error, giving the Raiders a 5-2 lead in the inning.
“We are fortunate to have hung around. They had a chance to break the game open and they didn’t,” McLaury said.
Independence responded by loading the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batsman by starting pitcher Jackson Marbet. The Eagles then scored on two passed balls and a fielder’s choice to tie the game at five runs each.
“Both teams played about the same,” McLaury said. “Walks and errors were a big part of their runs, and walks and passed balls were a big part of ours.”
Each team had four hits in the game, and no player on either team had a multi-hit game.
While his players haven’t struggled too much with rust thanks to a nearly full summer schedule last year, McLaury said he has had trouble feeling out his roster.
“I’m struggling to figure them out as players,” he said. “It’s one thing to do it in practice, but when the feet are to the fire, you kind of figure out who’s who and what’s what.”
Independence will travel to Spring Hill on Tuesday where Cooper Hargrove and Dawson Hargrove will duel it out on the bump for their respective teams.
Indy busts out early, earns win at Spring Hill
In what was supposed to have been a home softball contest for Independence, a field maintenance issue forced a sudden change of venue.
The Lady Eagles didn’t let that faze them, making themselves at home with five first-inning runs en route to an 11-3 win host Spring Hill.
Morgan Brown did plenty of damage both with her bat and in the circle for Independence. The senior singled in her first at-bat, and scored when her sister Ryan Brown, a sophomore, sent a line drive to center field.
Getting a district win to start play is a positive, but not something unusual for Indy coach Shane Buchanan. It’s not how you start the year, but how you finish, the veteran coach said.
“We’ve played really well at the beginning of the season the last couple of years, but faltered at the end,” he said. “We need to be playing as well at the end of the year as we do the beginning.”
With such a young team — Buchanan said he started six players as freshmen or sophomores — the fourth-year Independence coach is looking for a bright future from his team.
“We are missing two seniors right now who would probably be starting, but we’re a young team and we will be young all season,” he said. “Every year I’ve been here we’ve started at least one freshman.”
Spring Hill went with a young pitcher as well in the contest with freshman Marissa Elllis. Ellis went 5 1/3 innings before taking a line drive to the midsection and being removed from the game. According to teammates after the game, she was luckily not injured too badly.
In relief, senior Katherine Carter, a Jacksonville State signee, struck out both hitters she faced. She was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate as well, laying down a bunt that died on top of the third-base line before she crushed a two-run double off the left-field fence.
Spring Hill fell to 1-5 on the year, while Independence picked up its first win of the season.
Photos by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports