DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Edinburgh built an early lead thanks to the hitting of one Woodall sister and held onto it thanks to the pitching of the other.
It added up to a 5-3 win against Indian Creek in Friday’s first round of the Johnson County Softball Tournament at Center Grove.
The Lancers (10-7) play Greenwood in today’s 10 a.m. semifinal. The winner advances to the 12:30 p.m. championship.
Story continues below gallery
Senior Courtney Woodall epitomized Edinburgh’s prowess at the plate, slapping three of its 11 hits and starting two of its run-scoring rallies. Her sister, Bailey, a sophomore, pitched a complete game three-hitter, surrendering three runs, all of which were unearned due to a flurry of Edinburgh errors in the third and seventh innings.
Lancers coach Stephen Clark said the team has taken a more aggressive approach at the plate since an early-season hitting slump.
“We had a bit of a tough start to the season, and the girls have working hard to adjust at the plate,” Clark said. “Here in the last week they’ve really started to put it together and they’ve really been seeing the ball well.”
Courtney Woodall set the tone for the Lancers by leading off the game with a triple down the left-field line. She eventually scored on a single by Kayli Littiken to give Edinburgh a 1-0 first-inning lead.
Indian Creek threatened in the bottom of the second inning by loading the bases with a couple of walks and an error. Bailey Woodall slammed the door on the Braves’ scoring threat, however, by notching back-to-back strikeouts.
Edinburgh then scored three runs in the top of the third. Courtney Woodall kick-started the rally again with a single. Megan Rooks drew a walk and Vanessa McManaway bunted both runners over. After Littiken was hit by a pitch, Bri Howard made it 2-0 with an RBI single and then Kayla Beier drove in two runs with another base hit for a 4-0 Edinburgh lead.
Edinburgh’s lead-off hitter credited her coach’s practice regimen with helping produce her good offensive game.
“We’ve been working really hard in the cages and with (live) pitching),” Courtney Woodall said. “It really paid off here tonight.”
The Braves clawed a run back in the bottom of the third when Kayla Wilhoit singled and stole second base, advanced to third on a ground ball and scored on a fly ball from Rachel Kyle to make it 4-1.
In the meantime, Bailey Woodall ‘s fastball continued to improve as the game went on, and many of the Indian Creek hitters struggled to make contact.
Clark explained that improving Woodall’s location has been a priority. The left-hander walked three batters in the first two innings, but none in the final four, finishing with five strikeouts.
“We’ve been working on (location) a lot, and she’s coming around and starting to hit her spots quite a bit more,” Clark said. “She’s starting to see the results of doing that with different pitches.”
The Edinburgh pitcher helped herself in the sixth, leading off with an infield hit, advancing on a hit by her sister and later scoring on a fly ball from Littiken that made it over the center fielder’s head.
Indian Creek tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the seventh, putting runners on base via an error and an infield hit with one out. But Woodall knocked down a screaming liner from Kasey Wilhoit to record the second out. A pop fly should have ended the game, but instead two runs scored when it was dropped to make the score 5-3.
Woodall retired the final batter on a pop out to secure the victory for Edinburgh.
Along with Courtney Woodall’s three hits, Edinburgh were paced offensively by two hits each from Littiken and Howard, plus two RBIs from Littiken and Beier.