Panthers begin season with rout

NORTH VERNON — For new Jennings County softball coach Steve VanOsdol, just getting on the field to start the regular season was enough to settle his nerves and get his team going.

VanOsdol’s Panthers took it a step further Tuesday night, beating Batesville 13-1 in five innings in their first game of the season.

“I had some butterflies. But as soon as you get on the field and your girls start playing, then you start competing,” VanOsdol said. “I was really proud of them tonight. The girls have been ready for this. They’ve been inside, outside, back and forth, but they’re ready to play.”

Junior Bug Donnell was lights out on the mound for the Panthers, going four innings and surrendering just the one run on three hits to earn her first win of the season. Donnell regularly found herself ahead in the count and was in control all night, striking out seven Bulldogs.

Fellow junior Heather Feiles closed things out in the fifth, retiring the side while giving up only a walk.

“Bug obviously did an extremely nice job tonight out there on the mound hitting spots,” VanOsdol said.

Junior third baseman Kaylin Klosterman led the Panthers on the offensive side, going 3 for 3 with four RBIs. Klosterman’s two-out single in the first to drive in two was a key moment early in the game.

“With two outs and runners on second and third, that hit relaxed the rest of them, and we actually got into our game,” VanOsdol said. “That was a big two out hit.”

“I just had to go up there confident,” Klosterman said. “I knew I could do it, so I just did. I was practiced, I was prepared. I went up there and did what I do. I had fun. I produced. I went to work.”

Jennings kept constant pressure on the Batesville defense with its running game. The Panthers stole eight bases and were caught only once. They didn’t have many extra base hits, but seemingly always had someone in scoring position because of their aggressive play on the bases.

“These kids are very aggressive and they’re quick,” VanOsdol said. “They like that pace of play and they like that style of ball. Anytime we can take advantage and use our speed, we’re going to take advantage and use our speed.”

Baylee Krueger went 3 for 3 with two RBIs for Jennings. Hannah Castor went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, and Kyndal Olds and Amanda Bonesteel each went 2 for 3.

“It feels awesome,” Klosterman said. “I was actually really nervous at the start, but after we started it was such a relief. I’m so hyped for the rest of the season. It feels amazing to go out there and get a win to start it off.”

“We have the potential to be a very good offensive team, because we have speed, and we have kids that can hit the ball, but it’s all going to be in their mindset,” VanOsdol said.