Windy conditions are no problem for Hornettes' Ingram

News-DemocratMarch 31, 2014 

— There's not much that can faze Nashville junior Maci Ingram.

That includes an extremely blustery day as Ingram struck out 13 in throwing a three-hit shut as the Hornettes beat the New Athens Yellow Jackets 5-0 Monday in a battle of two of the top small-school softball teams in the metro-east.

Both teams had to deal with strong wind gusts that caused the flag pole in center field to bend toward left field.

"It's difficult, but the other pitcher has to deal with the same thing so you really can't complain too much about it," said Ingram, who pitched the Hornettes to the Class 2A state championship two years ago as a freshman and to a third-place finish in Class 2A last year as a sophomore. "The ball moves where the wind come up and pick it up, so it takes a little bit of adjusting to. Kiley (Pelker) and Briah (Winchester) did a really great job back there catching because you never know what that ball is going to do."

Ingram walked only one batter despite the conditions.

"She did a great job hitting her spots," Nashville coach Dempsey Witte said. "She has a great control and she doesn't walk many people. Another great performance from her."

The Hornettes improved to 6-0 on the young season. They had to shift some players around when Winchester left the game due to injury.

"Briah got dinged up a little bit, so we had to move some people around," Witte said. "I was happy that people stepped in and played well."

The Yellow Jackets fell to 4-3. They return most of their squad from last season with the exception of pitcher Cheyenne Muffo.

The Yellow Jackets' other two losses this season came to Class 2A Du Quoin and Trico.

"So far we've played all 2A teams except for Trico on Saturday, and they're probably as good of a 1A team as there is in a 100-mile radius," Widdersheim said. "We're playing some really tough competition, and down the road, it's going to help us."

Sophomore Abby Marlow takes over the pitching chores for the Yellow Jackets. She surrendered six hits, while striking out five and walking four against the Hornettes.

"Last year, Cheyenne, who is helping out this year, was a wonderful pitcher in all sorts of games, but Abby is going to do the same thing for us," Widdersheim said. "With Abby out there, we are going to be in a lot of games."

Widdersheim is hoping the success that many of his players experienced with the school's volleyball team and girls basketball team will spill over to softball.

The Yellow Jackets placed fourth in the state in Class 1A in volleyball and won their first regional title in girls basketball during the current school year.

"We have a lot of good athletes and softball is one of their favorite sports," Widdersheim said. "So far we've had some success and a couple of bumps, but I think that success (in other sports) should carry over and should give us some experience for those tough games."

The Hornettes staked Ingram to a quick lead as they scored three runs in the first inning.

Kiley Pelker drew a walk to lead off the game and stole second.

Pelker scored on a single by Jordi Harre, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Briah Winchester.

Abbi Liske rekindled the rally with a two-out double and Nellie Snead followed with an RBI single.

"Going out there having that little cushion and knowing my defense is behind me and my offense is on fire, it makes it so much easier," Ingram said.

The Hornettes didn't score again until the seventh inning when they pushed across two unearned runs on an RBI ground out by Liske and a single to right field by Hannah Young.

"It's tough to get behind like that at the beginning of the game, but I'm glad our girls stuck with it," New Athens coach Conrad Widdersheim said. "They didn't say, 'Hey, we're down 3-0 already,' and stop playing. They stuck with it."

The Yellow Jackets had their best scoring opportunity in the second inning when Denae White led off with a single. Aleen Dutkanych singled with two outs to put runners at second and third, but Ingram got a strike out to end the threat.

White had a single in the seventh inning to account for the Yellow Jackets' only other hit off Ingram.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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