The path to victory was flooded with bunts.
Edgewood High School’s softball team sparked its offense with a lot of small ball and a lot of speed Monday in a Division I sectional opener against visiting Loveland, and Sam Davis piled up 16 strikeouts in the circle.
It all added up to a 9-6 victory for the Cougars, who improved to 11-13 overall and 6-5 since Wayne Asher resigned as head coach April 24.
PREP BASEBALL COVERAGE
“I don’t know how many bunts we had today, but we had a lot,” said Greg Brown, Edgewood’s interim coach and athletic director. “We’ve been struggling hitting since I’ve taken over. We just have to manufacture runs right now until we get our bats going.
“They were not a good bunt fielding team, so we made them do it until they got us out. They did a couple times, but the majority of the time, it worked. Small ball and good pitching and good defense behind it. That’s kind of where we’re at.”
The Cougars, seeded 16th in Cincinnati, got seven bunt singles in the first two spots in the batting order between Ashley Shannon (4-for-4) and Jenna Smith (3-for-4), respectively.
The No. 21 Tigers (8-12) committed six errors and looked unsure of themselves practically every time the hosts put down a bunt.
“That was the most anybody’s bunted on us. Honestly, it hasn’t been an issue,” Loveland coach Mike Rapp said. “We struggled making plays on it, so I don’t blame them. I would’ve kept bunting too.”
It was a feast-or-famine day at the plate for the Tigers. All but five of their outs were whiffs, but they also totaled 11 hits against Davis and hit more than a few balls hard.
Katlyn Kramer cracked a solo homer for Loveland. Ally Batsch and Lindsay Smith drove in two runs apiece, and Taylor Owens, Batsch, Audrey Swearingen and Kramer contributed two hits apiece.
“They came out swinging,” said Davis, a senior who will play for Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia next season. “I was kind of off a little. I threw a lot more balls than I usually do, but I just reeled in, focused in, and I made sure to get it done.”
The Cougars snapped a 6-6 deadlock with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, a rally that began with three straight bunt singles by Shannon, Smith and Davis.
Erin Robinson had the game-winning hit, a two-run single, and also doubled. Jenna Evans homered, singled and drove in a run, and Tessa Diefenbacher added an RBI.
Both teams stranded nine runners, and Livia McClellan was the losing pitcher. Edgewood didn’t strike out all day.
“I tip my cap to them,” Rapp said. “We had chances to score more runs, but their pitcher threw a great game. She kept us guessing a little bit. We still had some good hits off her. We just needed a big hit here and there.
“You feel bad for your seniors after losing in the tournament, but we’re pretty young. I’ve got seven sophomores and a freshman out there playing. We’ll be back next year.”
Brown said he’s enjoying his time as the Cougars’ coach, even though he stepped in with zero coaching experience in softball.
“The coaches and players are working hard,” said Brown, who coaches the EHS girls basketball team. “These kids have had a great attitude, they’ve been very coachable, and they’re playing together. I’ve been very happy with what I’ve seen.”
Davis said the squad has come together in the last two weeks.
“Brown’s really stepped up and made us become a team because we weren’t really bonding,” she said. “There was kind of a lot of drama that was bringing us down at the beginning.”
Brown said there’s no scenario where he’ll be the softball coach next season.
“It’ll be the quickest resignation in history,” he said. “We’ll open it up at the end of the year and interview and see what happens. I’ve never been a softball coach before, but coaching kids and teaching how we’re together has nothing to do with Xs and Os. It’s all about relationships and those types of things.
“I’ve watched the game from an AD’s perspective, but actually getting in the dugout and interacting and talking to everybody, it’s kind of unique. I’ve learned a ton and got closer to some girls I really didn’t know, so that’s been kind of cool. Heck, I may even recruit them for basketball.”
The Cougars will continue tournament play at home Wednesday against Sycamore (6-19), the No. 22 seed.
WP — Sam Davis (9-9); LP — Livia McClellan (7-9); HR — L: Katlyn Kramer; E: Jenna Evans. Records: L 8-12, E 11-13
About the Author