The Lady Shiners’ softball season came to an end Monday falling 5-0 to North Decatur in the first round of IHSAA Sectional 60.
Back on May 5, Rising Sun defeated the Lady Chargers 11-1 in five innings.
“The first meeting with North was a game played in the rain and we benefited from 13 walks,” said coach Bryce Kendrick. “We had some timely hits but only five overall. We knew we weren’t going to see a lot of walks again but we expected to hit the ball better. North’s pitcher is the type of pitcher we’ve hit well all season. It just didn’t happen Monday. Some kids didn’t hit well at all. Others hit fine but right at people. We had just three hits, two by Sydney Bostic and one by Lucy Phelps.”
As difficult as it was to find hits, defense was just as much of a concern.
“Officially, we had three errors,” noted Kendrick. “Unofficially, we had several other plays that should have been made that weren’t. We have to make plays defensively against good teams or we aren’t going to win the games that matter the most. Of our six losses, four games were winnable. We lost because of defense. For two straight years, we’ve averaged 2.5 errors a game. In losses, we’ve averaged over 4. That’s not acceptable.”
Offensively, it was a good year for Rising Sun. The team had 16 wins and set new season program records for home runs (21), runs scored (255), RBI (233), triples (12), slugging percentage (.593) and on base plus slugging percentage (1.062). Individually, Lindsay Montgomery set a new single season home run record (12).
“The offensive achievements are nice, but we have nothing to show for it,” stated Kendrick. “No conference championship and another first game sectional loss. It’s disappointing. Kids, and parents for that matter, have to understand being just an offensively good player is only being half a player. I appreciate how hard the kids worked to get better offensively. It showed. But they have to put in the same effort to improve defensively or they may be watching others play in front of them.”
Kendrick said the team works on defensive drills during open gyms and during the season. But that’s not where a player is going to see the most improvement.
“It’s the time kids put in during the offseason which will make or break them,” stated Kendrick. “They have another offseason to keep their bats sharp, but they really need to use the offseason to become better defensively. I watch other teams which play good defense and their technique is what we try to teach. The difference is their kids do it and some of our kids don’t. While we only lose one senior, we may have a completely different look next season if players don’t improve defensively. Defense is going to take on a much greater priority regarding playing time because I can’t watch another season of poor defense. Otherwise, we will continue to lose the games that matter the most.”
Coach Kendrick will miss his one graduating senior, Caroline Stapleton.
“Caroline is one of the most unselfish players I have ever coached in 28 years,” Kendrick said. “She is an outstanding outfielder but, when asked, has played first, second and even pitcher in an emergency situation. Caroline came to practice and games every day ready to work. She never whined, complained or pouted when things didn’t go her way. If something went wrong, sure, she got upset. But she quickly put it behind her and moved on. That’s what good players do. She was always supportive of her teammates. While Caroline was our only senior, she never made the season, any game or any play about her. It was always about the team. I can’t thank her enough for her contributions both as a player and a leader.”
Next season looks to be a bright one for Rising Sun.
“While I’ve been harping on our poor defense, we do have a good group of girls returning, and I believe they will be committed to making the improvements necessary to become better which, in turn, will make the team better,” said Kendrick. “Plus, they will be pushed with another solid group of freshmen coming up. You can’t be complacent on our team. We have kids currently on our roster and those who will be added next season who are hungry and want to play.”