In the past five seasons, Indiana batters have teed off against Hampton pitchers on the notoriously short-fenced Rotary Park Pavilion Field at the Indiana Little League Complex.
But Hampton’s Ashley Sheetz and Rachael Pletz reversed that trend Tuesday.
The Talbots notched their first win in five years in Indiana, racked up three homers and 13 hits, and routed the Indians, 16-3, in a WPIAL Section 5-AAA softball game that was shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule.
[PHOTO: Indians pitcher Brooke Ruffner. (Kayla Grube/Gazette photo)]
“It’s tough when you get behind early like that,” Indiana coach Harold Wilson said. “Players get down and you try to keep them up but it’s not easy to get back in a game whenever you fall behind by that many (runs).”
The Talbots used four singles, a walk and a wild pitch to score five runs in the top of the first inning.
Indiana’s Holli Sottile singled and scored on a groundout by Brianna Dillon to cut Hampton’s lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the first.
But on the third at-bat of the following inning, freshman Sheetz belted her first of two homers on the day; this one a two-run shot over the right-field fence to stretch the Talbots’ lead to 7-1.
Pletz reached base on a walk before scoring later in the inning on an error to make it an 8-1 game.
The Talbots then answered Indiana’s run in the bottom of the second inning with a five-run rally that was sparked by Sheetz’s second two-run homer. Haley Dietz capped Hampton’s rally by stroking a two-run double with two outs to make it a 13-2 game.
“Our hitting is going to be our strong point until we’re able to shore things up defensively,” said Hampton coach Ron Fedell. “The home runs today were a big help to us. That’s what won us this game. Usually up here Indiana gives us all we can handle. It’s been five years since we’ve won a game up here, so this was big.”
Dillon clubbed a homer to deep left-center field to score Indiana’s last run of the day and make it a 13-3 game.
Pletz drilled a three-run homer in the top of the fourth to swell the Talbots’ lead to 13 runs, 16-3.
“It was the other way around today,” Wilson said. “They won the home run battle, for sure. We just couldn’t quite get the hits when we needed them to get back in to this one.”
Indiana, which committed five errors, left five runners on base. Hampton made two errors and stranded six runners.
Dillon finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Brooke Ruffner struck out one in a complete-game losing effort.