Olympians beat odds, fire back

When describing high school athletes, it is politically incorrect to use the word “embarrassed.”

We know that being embarrassed is a human condition that we all experience on occasion. Why we need to be embarrassed about being embarrassed is beyond me. We’ve all been there.

But using “embarrassed” in a high school sports story is kind of like saying a baby is ugly. You just don’t go there.

If I would write for example, “the Olympians were embarrassed by the Highlanders,” I would get 14 nasty emails from Mothers United Against Unfeeling Sportswriters.

So after Floyd Central took the Columbus East softball team to the woodshed Tuesday to the tune of 13-0, I avoided using the “E” word.

It wouldn’t have mattered, though, to first-year East softball coach Rusty Brummett, who wasn’t about to do any tap dance after his Olympians were dumped by Floyd Central in the Hoosier Hills Conference opener.

“No, you can say it,” he said of using the word embarrassed. “If you are an athlete and you are not embarrassed after something like that, especially considering all the hard work you have put in, there is something wrong.”

Brummett went on to say that his team also was embarrassed after an 8-0 loss earlier this season to Seymour, which just happened to be the Olympians’ road opponent Wednesday in the consolation bracket.

Then Brummett quickly changed gears. He not only said that his players would pull it together and compete against the Owls on Wednesday, he added something else, which considering the circumstances, sounded plain goofy.

“We’re going in there to get a win.”

Twenty-four hours later, the Olympians had completed an 8-3 thumping of Seymour in a remarkable transformation.

That story involved the use of some other words. Character. Integrity. Perseverance.

East junior pitcher Hayley Smalley, who was on the mound for the Floyd Central pounding, slammed the door on the Owls in the final two innings after Erin Tharp had pitched the first five. Every East starter had at least one hit, except for Smalley, who still managed two RBIs.

Sophomore Parker Wetherald got everything started in the first inning with a two-out, two-run base hit. Olympians second baseman Caitlyn Williams played some dynamic defense, starting two double plays.

And junior Elyse Babb does what she always does, which is lead by example in being one of the area’s best players.

“I’m very proud,” Brummett said. “We could have taken that whooping and just pouted. But we felt we had something to prove.

“I think this win speaks volumes about where this program is going. It’s a whole mindset. These girls are learning how to win.”

He knows it is going to be a process, starting with today’s fifth-place HHC game at Jeffersonville at 6 p.m.

The Olympians, who have won just four games against 14 losses, aren’t going to emerge from a phone booth (for the younger readers, that was kind of like a closet with a pay telephone in it) and become Superwomen. They have flaws that won’t be easy to fix.

Brummett must recruit more players with speed and quickness, because that’s what dominates, other than pitching, today’s high school game. He needs to drill his fielders a thousand times on handling chances without a bobble. It’s the nature of the game that if a fielder isn’t perfect, the runner is safe.

What Brummett doesn’t have to worry about is his players’ heart. They experienced what Brummett called “an old-fashioned beat-down” and came back tough as nails.

When all is said and done this season, that will be worth celebrating.