The Warren County High School softball team prides itself on the ability to make tough defensive plays and get stops at key times.
What the Lady Pioneers may need to begin to worry about is getting a hit in clutch spots, or just scoring a run. Warren County was shut out for the second straight game Sunday, as the Lady Pioneers lost to Shelbyville 5-0.
Coach David Upton’s team has never been a juggernaut at the plate, as the Lady Pioneers have averaged just a shade over four runs in their six victories. But the last two games have been especially brutal offensively, as Warren County has managed just 11 hits in 12 innings.
To make matters worse against Shelbyville, Warren County was without its lead-off batter Lauren Wilkinson. Wilkinson missed the game, leaving coach Upton no choice but to shuffle his lineup.
Sophomore designated hitter Monica Lane got the call to bat first, and she was one of the lone bright spots in the order. Lane went 3-for-4, providing nearly half the team’s hit total.
Clean-up hitter Taylor Grissom came up with two more hits, while Morgan Frye and Peytan Hall had the only other hits.
The lack of offense seems to be a growing concern to coach Upton, who has seen his team lose two straight after winning its previous six games.
“I think we’re struggling to find our groove at the plate,” said Upton. “We’re putting the ball in play, but right at people. We have to keep swinging the bats hard and they’ll start finding the gaps.”
With the offense sputtering, greater importance was placed on the Lady Pioneers’ pitching and defense, but neither seemed prepared in the early innings.
Starter Gabi Keith gave up three hits and two runs to the Lady Eagles in the opening inning, digging the Lady Pioneers an early hole.
The lead grew to 3-0 for Shelbyville when it plated another run in the top of the second. Keith walked the first batter, then two sacrifices brought the runner to third. A shallow pop fly into short right-center field landed between Lindsey Rowland and Hall, allowing the run to score.
Grissom came up with the first hit for the Lady Pioneers in the bottom of the second, doubling into the right-field gap. She wouldn’t move any further as Warren County couldn’t come up with a hit to bring her around.
The Lady Eagles scored for the third consecutive inning to grow their lead to 4-0. Samantha Weeter, who filled in for Wilkinson at shortstop, snagged a sharply hit line drive to begin the inning, but had an error on the next at-bat to allow a runner on. The next two batters singled off of Keith, getting the fourth run across the plate.
Lane had her first of three hits in the bottom of third on a two-out single, but was stranded at first. Following a 1-2-3 inning for Keith in the fourth, the Lady Pioneers threatened to score their first run.
Sarah Jacobs began the inning with a walk and after a pop out by Grissom, Frye came up with a single up the middle. Chelsea Cope lofted a perfectly placed shot over the third basemen’s head, who had drawn to defend against a bunt, but the Shelbyville shortstop made a running grab near the third-base line to thwart the Warren County rally.
The Lady Eagles had three of their nine hits in the fifth inning to plate the team’s fifth run, which would prove to be the final run. The nine hits were the most Keith had given up this season, as the junior pitcher fell to 3-3.
Lane once again tried to begin a rally with two outs in the bottom of the fifth when she blasted a double over the left fielder’s head. Lane would be stranded when Rowland grounded out to the pitcher on the next pitch.
Warren County had one final chance to score when Hall and Lane strung together back-to-back hits in the seventh inning with two outs, but Rowland’s hot shot was scooped up by Shelbyville’s pitcher, who tossed to first for the final out.
The loss dropped the Lady Pioneers to 6-3. Warren County will look to bounce back tomorrow when they travel to Lincoln County for the Border Battle Tournament. The Lady Pioneers are scheduled to play seven games over the next three days, including beginning the tournament with a day game against Lincoln County tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.