Some days you just get beat.
The 2019 Rising Sun Lady Shiners lost in the 1A regional to a very talented Indianapolis Lutheran Saints team 10-4. Our train made its final stop Tuesday night.
We had a chance to see Lutheran play once. We knew they had two slappers. We knew the middle of their order hit for power. We knew they were aggressive on the bases. We knew their top pitcher liked to throw rise balls up and curve balls off the plate to get batters to chase. We built a game plan accordingly and did our best to address each concern. Some things we stopped. Some we didn’t.
The Saints were not tested when we saw them and, thus, we didn’t see everything they were capable of doing. We saw it all Tuesday. It was impressive.
Their leadoff hitter (Moore) is much more than a slapper. She is an excellent bunter and can hit for power which is not common for slap hitters. When a player can do all three effectively, it’s almost impossible to defend. She is very, very good.
We held their second slap hitter in check. Their three hitter and pitcher (Gregory) had a great night at the plate. Their five hitter (Morris) is their leading home run hitter and she added one more to her total in the seventh. Their four hitter (Dunn) hit the ball hard four times. Two were rocket line drives picked off by Lindsay Montgomery at third base. Both were outstanding plays.
The last four in the Saints’ lineup picked their spots. Kassidy Romans made several super stops and assists at second base, but each of those four still found a hole to hit through at some point. It was a productive offensive night for the Saints from top to bottom.
We had three errors. None of the errors involved giving away outs but did give up bases. As I told our girls after the game, those mistakes didn’t cost us. After reviewing the play summary later on, that statement was confirmed. Each of the three Lutheran players who got extra bases due to error all would have scored anyway because of additional hitting which followed (triples following the first two miscues and a single/double combo after the third).
Lutheran hit the ball well and put pressure on our defense much like we have done to most of our opponents all season.
Speaking of which, we hit the ball hard and just as well as Lutheran but simply didn’t find enough holes. I thought we rocked their top pitcher. She just had some great defense behind her. Lutheran’s left fielder (Morris) is as good as we’ve seen all season. We have made a living this season picking on left fielders. The Saints’ left fielder was superb and had five put outs. Most were not routine.
Our plate discipline was very good. Offensively, we gave ourselves a chance by putting the ball in play hard and consistently, but Lutheran defended well.
Some days you just get beat.
When we gathered after the loss, understandably, emotions were running high. It’s never easy to lose your last game but it hurts a little more when you’ve had an incredible season and felt there were more games to be played.
When we started as a full group back in January, I told the team the conference and sectional are set up for you, but they were not going to be given to you. You had to earn it.
They earned both. They swept the conference (12-0) and outscored three sectional opponents 31-1. They worked their tails off on areas we needed to improve upon and were rewarded for it. Despite Tuesday’s regional loss, nobody can take those two titles and 24 wins away from them. They are champions in every sense of the word and I am so proud of all of them.
We say goodbye to three seniors: Lucy Phelps, Abby Wallace and Sydney Bostic.
Lucy was our designated player. I admire Lucy’s resolve. She struggled in the first half of the season making contact. Lucy kept working and had a much better second half both putting the ball in play and getting hits. When players are going through a difficult time in any aspect of their game, they have two choices- give up or step up. Lucy worked to step up. That shows great character and her efforts are appreciated.
Abby was our left fielder and whom I like to call our spiritual leader. In all the years I have coached, Abby will go down as one of my favorites. There are players who play and then there is Abby. While other individuals may be stronger or faster, none play with as much heart and enthusiasm as she does. I’ve told several people to give me a good pitcher, a good catcher, seven Abbys and I’ll take my chances. She plays hard, has fun doing it and makes it fun for those around her.
Sydney is the second Bostic to catch for the Lady Shiners and the second who will go on to play college ball (Franklin). Her remarkable four-year career at Rising Sun was highlighted by .487 batting average and .986 fielding percentage. She hit .537 in 2019 with a fielding percentage of .995. Sydney was, again, named All-ORVC this season and also named the conference’s Mental Attitude Award Winner for softball. More awards are coming but can’t be announced yet. In addition to her skillset, her ability to direct the team on the field was also a major asset.
Thank you seniors for your four years as Rising Sun Lady Shiners. Each of you will be greatly missed. I wish you the very best in the chapters of your lives yet to be written.
We will have a great nucleus coming back and I fully expect for us to be in this same position next year, providing each player works just as hard as they did this year.
Junior pitcher Sydney Pitts will likely end this season with the most wins of any pitcher in Indiana and will receive some nice recognition for a tremendous year in the very near future. She was a Bulldog in the circle, and we could not have reached 24 wins without her. I can’t stress enough the importance of her efforts and what they meant to our success this season.
First baseman Cora Poling made a huge impact as a freshman. Once she got comfortable at the plate, she was a great power bat in our lineup. Defensively, she provided a huge target at first base who could move and stretch, getting to balls that weren’t quite delivered on the money.
Second baseman Kassidy Romans really upped her game offensively this season and became a much more consistent defender. Overall, it was a season to be proud of for her. I greatly look forward to see what she can do during her upcoming senior season.
Shortstop Tyrrah Miller made solid strides from her freshman year. She became a nice run producer at the plate who also took advantage of her speed. Tyrrah has the physical tools to be an outstanding player. I want her to also have the same confidence in her abilities as I have in her as a coach.
Third baseman Lindsay Montgomery got off to a slow start offensively but absolutely destroyed opposing pitching in late April and all of May. When she sticks to simple swing mechanics, there is not a more powerful hitter anywhere. But as much attention she draws with her but, she improved greatly as a defender this season.
Center fielder Shelby Stogsdill was our flex player who mainly was a defender. She has a good nose for the ball and can cover a lot of ground. Coming back next year as a junior, I look forward to see how much Shelby builds upon what was a good sophomore season.
Right fielder Emma Levi was probably the most pleasant surprise of 2019. Emma became a much more aggressive defender, getting to more balls in the air than during her sophomore season. She also developed more as a hitter and became a real asset as a nine hitter, getting on base for the top of our lineup.
With our starting group being as productive as they were, that really didn’t leave much opportunity for our bench group to see many opportunities. But the role of sophomores Chloe Fletcher, Vada Walston and Hannah Warr along with freshmen Josie Bell and Ella Eldridge was very important.
One major goal this season was to improve our team defense. We’ve always hit well. We needed to get better defensively and we did. In 2018, we had 56 errors in 22 games. That’s 2.54 errors per game. Our team fielding percentage was .904. Neither was good.
In 2019, we had 39 errors (17 less) in 28 games (six more) for only 1.39 miscues per game. Our fielding percentage increased to .950. I’ll take that.
In addition to working on fundamentals and simplifying what our responsibilities were defensively, where Chloe, Vada, Hannah, Josie and Ella helped out most was situational defense. This group of five provided countless quality at bats against our first-team defense during practice where we simulated live game situations. They made us a better team defensively and I can’t thank them enough for their efforts. They were very much part of our success this season.
There are several people I would like to thank.
To the parents of our Lady Shiners, thank you for such an outstanding group of young ladies who provided our team, school and community a season to be very proud of. I appreciate the time, effort and money you’ve invested in their development and to those who contributed to our food and drinks at games. Also thanks to those who positively supported our program throughout the season.
To fans young and old, thanks for coming to our games and supporting us. We hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we did.
To my family, thanks for putting up with the late hours, the crazy schedule and for being such a great support system.
To Rising Sun Mayor Brent Bascom, thank you for allowing me the flexibility in my schedule to balance both work and coaching.
To Rising Sun School Superintendent Branden Roeder, RSHS Principal Noel Bostic and Athletic Director Abby Friend, your support and encouragement as administrators has meant a lot. Thank you so much.
To Ronna Billingsley and Tracy Stegemiller in the athletic department, your work often goes unnoticed by those outside of your office and the athletic program. I notice and I thank you for your hard work and assistance throughout the year.
To Mrs. Patz, our seamstress extraordinaire. Thank you for repairing our uniforms whether it be torn belt loops, busted zippers or holes in the fabric from sliding. You’re the best.
To Mrs. Huff at OCEMS, thanks for allowing us the privilege of using the middle school gym during the offseason and during inclement weather during the regular season.
To Nick Levi who was a huge help keeping up with the mowing, trimming and general upkeep of our very nice softball facility, thank you for your hard work. We also appreciate you driving us to a couple of games.
To Josh Uhlmansiek, thanks for your dedication to our athletes as a top-notch trainer and also for helping out in practice at times.
To Rick Weales for keeping our electronic stats, for your public address announcing and sometimes having an open mic night.
To Cheri Weales and Jennifer Bostic for helping to keep the manual scorebook.a
To Mason Uhlmansiek and Tim Hillman for their pictures and to all local media for their coverage.
To coach Ken DeDreu, thanks for working with our middle school players and the time you were able to spend with our high school athletes. Both groups benefited greatly.
To coach Noel Bostic, thanks for putting in as much time as you did this season. It was nice to have another quality individual on staff to share knowledge gained from elite travel ball to D-1 college coaches.
To Alan Poling. Alan…I simply could not do this job without you. From being a sounding board, to providing constructive opinions and observations, to keeping me grounded, to working your butt off and to making this job as enjoyable as it can possibly be, thank you for EVERYTHING!
Lastly, to my players, thank you for your hard work and commitment. You were rewarded with 24 wins, an undefeated ORVC season and a sectional championship. Be proud. I am.
For all returning players, work hard in the off season starting this summer. You can be even better in 2020 if you work at it. The same goals we accomplished this year can be achieved next season and, hopefully, we can add to them.
Rising Sun Softball