HOPE — Morale was down for the Class A No. 2 Hauser softball team upon hearing word that pitching ace Tessa Sims would be unavailable to pitch the rest of the regular season.
With a young team this season, coach Craig Sims was not going to let them believe that it was already a lost season.
Friday’s game against North Decatur was a huge boost of gaining confidence going forward. After the Chargers had the early lead, the Jets plated 12 runs in the final four frames to win 13-3 in six innings.
Craig Sims said that there is a very small chance Tessa Sims could pitch in the postseason, but for now, resting is the most important thing.
Sophomore Hunter Crain is taking over the pitching duties. It was a bit of a slow start at first, but she settled down and retired nine straight batters over the final three innings. Crain recorded five strikeouts and allowed only four hits.
“I feel like I’m handling (starting pitching duties) very well, and it’s a really new role for me,” Crain said. “It is a lot to adjust to. I’ve been pitching since I was 8 years old, and I haven’t had much pitching time since (entering high school), and this is my first real start at pitching.”
The pitching change is also an adjustment for Hauser senior catcher Hailey Lange, who has caught for Tessa Sims since they both started playing softball at a very young age.
“I’m so used to Tessa, so it is a lot different,” Lange said. “Hunter is actually doing really well and picking up the slack these past couple days, and I’m super proud of her. Tessa is one of those pitchers that works hard all the time. Some pitchers can get lazy, but Hunter is not like that. She’s different, and she’s worked her tail off here recently because she knows she has to do a lot more for this team now.”
North Decatur (2-5, 0-4) was able to take advantage of a couple of Jets errors in the first three innings to put runs on the board. The defensive outfield of Hauser (6-1, 4-0) did its job of preventing more runs.
Mykenzie Ault made a great catch in right field in the first inning to prevent a run. Lauryn Starnes did the same thing in the third inning when she ran forward to chase down a blooper over second base. Ali Hoover in the sixth inning made a running catch in left field to stop the Chargers from starting a rally.
The Jets infield also cleaned up and went errorless over the final three innings.
“Once I warm up longer and get out there, I know the defense has my back, and I do a lot better,” Crain said.
With Hauser leading 7-3 heading into the fifth inning, their biggest offense output began. Starnes lead off with a base hit. Katie Taylor followed with a single, and then an error put Starnes and Taylor on third and second.
Sydney Schoen scored Starnes on a fielder’s choice. Tessa Sims laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Taylor. Lange capped it off with a two-run homer deep over the center field to increase the lead to 11-3.
The Jets ended the game by virtue of the 10-run rule by adding two more runs in the sixth.