The 2016 softball season started out with such promise for Columbus East and Columbus North.
After both teams struggled to put together wins under first-year coaches last year, the Olympians started this season 2-1, and the Bull Dogs began 3-3. But East has lost four in a row, and North went 0-5 last week against some solid competition.
“We hit a little slump this week,” North coach Robyn Coffer said. “We’ve been in games and couldn’t finish games. We’ve had runners on with an opportunity to score, and couldn’t get them in. But the potential is there. They’re obviously able to do it.”
Today, the two teams in need of a win will face off against each other at Southside Elementary.
East (2-5) opened its season with a doubleheader split against a Bloomington South team that won the Class 4A state title two years ago and claimed the sectional involving East and North last season. The Olympians then knocked off Brownstown Central before running into trouble.
“We really got off to a pretty good start,” East coach Rusty Brummett said. “We split a doubleheader with a pretty quality program. Then, we’ve just kind of run into a little spell where we just didn’t hit as well as we can.”
The Bull Dogs (3-8) lost their first three, but then won three in a row to even their record. Last week, they fell to Seymour, Shelbyville, Franklin Central, Class A co-No. 1 Hauser and Brownstown.
Both teams are led by senior catchers who are headed to Division I programs. North’s Tommi Stowers (Western Kentucky) and East’s Elyse Babb (Butler) are both batting around .500.
“Obviously, Elyse has came out hitting the ball very well,” Brummett said. “It’s nice that Hayley Smalley had a couple nice games hitting the ball (Saturday at Mt. Vernon). She’s starting to hit the ball pretty well. If she can keep that up, with her and Elyse and Kaitlynn Dye in the middle of the order, we have a chance to score some runs.”
The Bull Dogs also have shown an ability to score runs, putting up 17 and seven in a doubleheader sweep of Whiteland. Seniors Katie Prall, Lauren Imlay and Makayla Caudill are batting around the .300 mark.
Junior Madisyn Prince and senior Christine Bombardiere have shared the pitching load for North.
“I don’t want to put too much emphasis on the fact that it’s a crosstown rivalry,” Coffer said. “We have to go out and execute for a full seven innings.”
Smalley, a senior, has done the bulk of the pitching for the Olympians.
“I feel pretty good about our chances,” Brummett said. “It will be nice to see if we can do something early in the ballgame and put a little pressure on the defense. If we’re not putting the ball in play, we’re going to be fighting for everything we’ve got.”
What: Columbus East vs. Columbus North softball
When: 5 p.m.
Where: Southside Elementary