In the very first inning Tuesday, it became apparent that Jennings County softball pitcher Lisa McIntosh was going to have a wide target to hit at home plate.
That was bad news for host Columbus East.
“I usually hit the corners,” said McIntosh, who allowed only one hit in a 6-0 victory against the Olympians. “I never throw it down the middle. And, usually, when I get into a rhythm, I stay in it.”
McIntosh finished off an offensively-challenged East squad in short order.
Jennings County coach Kendall Wildey knows some umpires shrink the strike zone while others are a bit more liberal with strike territory. It’s up to the teams to adjust.
But when McIntosh, one of the area’s top hurlers, has that little extra edge off the corners, look out.
“It was brutal for them, no doubt,” Wildey said of East’s offense. “I’m surprised they didn’t back out, or try to play some small ball.
“And, really, we haven’t seen that kind of game from Lisa yet. She took some time off in the winter because she had been playing on all these travel teams. She just needed a break. She is just finding her form.”
That form was dominating on Tuesday.
“That girl was hitting her spots,” East coach Sonny Stahl said. “We couldn’t take pitches because she was throwing strikes. We told the girls, ‘If it is close, swing. Don’t let the ump call you out.’”
East’s Paige Babb dropped a single into center in the sixth inning and her sister, Elyse Babb, reached twice on errors. That was it for the Olympians.
“That is a good team, and we feel we played them well,” Stahl said. “Our problem has been offense. It has been a tough situation because, believe me, these girls don’t want to go up there and not hit.”
East fell to 2-11 overall and 0-4 in the Hoosier Hills Conference while Jennings County raised its record to 9-5 and 3-1.
“East’s program is getting so much better,” Wildey said.
“With Sonny, their staff, these girls, we can see it coming. I applaud them for the progress that they’ve made.”
Jennings County scored all the runs it would need with two in the first inning. Dani Kirchner led off with a single to left and stole second. She scored on McIntosh’s single to left. McIntosh was erased on a fielder’s choice, but Baylee Krueger eventually scored on an error.
The Panthers picked up their third run in the third as Kirchner reached on an infield single and scored after McIntosh’s double and a fielder’s choice.
Jennings County added two runs in the fourth as Bug Donnell ripped an RBI triple and scored on Hannah Castor’s ground out.
The Panthers’ final run came in the fifth as Krueger doubled and Lauren Klosterman drove her home with a single.