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North goes with new arm to beat East

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For years, Grayson Harney tried unsuccessfully to fight her way into Columbus North’s varsity softball lineup.

When she finally did it as a senior, she wasn’t getting the call at the position she loved the most, pitcher.

On Monday, though, Harney got her shot on the mound, and against cross-town rival Columbus East.

With her teammates supplying plenty of offensive support, Harney tossed a tidy three-hit, six-inning shutout in a 10-0 victory.

“It makes me feel good inside to show what I am made of,” said Harney, who got the start because usual North pitcher Molly Crowe no longer is listed on the roster.

North coach Jerry Burton, who wouldn’t comment on Crowe, was impressed with Harney, who usually plays outfield.

“I thought she did a nice job and stayed ahead in the count,” Burton said.

It should have been a pitcher’s duel.

Columbus East pitcher Hayley Smalley certainly deserved better than a 10-run loss. The first four runs the Bull Dogs scratched out might have been avoided with some solid defensive play behind her.

North (5-4) put a pair of runs on the board in the first inning as Denisa Brooks led off with a perfectly-placed infield hit before East mishandled a fielder’s choice grounder by Katie Prall. With two runners on base and none out, Christine Bombardiere singled to center to drive in the first run.

Shannah Hercamp picked up the second run with a ground out to first.

The two pitchers then dominated into the bottom of the fifth when the Bull Dogs struck again.

Brooks led off with a single and her speed seemed to give East’s defense fits. Prall and Bombardiere both laid down sacrifice bunts and both were mishandled, filling the bases for Kelsay Lucas, who clubbed a two-run double. Tommi Stowers brought home another run with a ground out, and Hercamp made the score 6-0 with an RBI single.

East seemed to sink a bit at that point, and North closed out the game in the bottom of the sixth with four more runs, two on a double by Lucas and the others on RBI singles by Bombardiere and Hercamp.

Brooks and Prall each scored three runs for North.

“We go as they go,” Burton said of his leadoff and No. 2 hitter.

“The top of our lineup sets the tempo for us,” said Lucas, who had four RBI. “If they aren’t on, I get pitched around a lot.”

All the offense wasn’t needed with Harney having a big night.

“Hopefully this shows I can do it at the varsity level,” she said. “Being able to pitch makes the game more enjoyable for me. I touch the ball every play.

“And there were so many people here. It builds my confidence.”

East dropped to 2-9 after a painful defeat that should have been much closer.

“We were focused coming in,” East coach Sonny Stahl said. “But once they scored, we lost our focus.

“This was tough. All our girls’ friends and family were here. But we’re going to have a good day of practice, and we will be back.”

North goes right back into action at 5:30 p.m. today against host Franklin Central in a Conference Indiana game.

“I don’t get into (the rivalry against East) as much as some people,” Burton said. “It was just nice for us to win a game and play well. I was proud of the girls. But tomorrow is Franklin Central.”

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