Lady Panthers slug past Waltonville, Herrin by a combined score of 19-1

Taylor Witges is 6-for-7 in her first 9 plate appearances with Pinckneyville, and would probabaly be 7-for-7 if not for stepping on the ball here. (Doug Daniels Photo)

By Doug Daniels

1351sports.com / pinckneyvillesports.com

March 16, 2018

  (Waltonville & Pinckneyville, Ill.) - Not a whole lot has changed with the Lady Panthers' softball team since they put together a 4th Place showing in Class 2A last season. The squad, which returned all but one graduating senior from their 2017 lineup and added an additional All-Stater, bashed their way past their first two opponents this week by a combined score of 19-1.
  The first victim was Waltonville on Wednesday, and Daisy Dudek tossed a shutout in the circle in Pinckneyville's 12-0 win in five innings.
  "I thought it starts with Daisy coming back, and her ability to throw her off-speed pitch when she's being in the count can kind of get some weak swings," said PCHS head coach Alan Engelhardt. "They put some balls in play but defensively we played pretty well behind her too, got the lead runner three times I think on balls hit to the left side. She was in command out there. She's starting to look healthy. The velocity is back up. The more she's out there the better she's going to get, too. It's nice to have that 1-2 punch, and really 3 and 4 pretty good too."
  Former Lady Spartan Taylor Witges, making her debut with the Lady Panthers, went 4-for-4 at the plate, as did clean-up hitter Josie Gleason, who belted the first PCHS home run of the season in the top of the fourth.
  "(Witges) can do different things," Engelhardt said. "We're going to give her a little freedom, in certain situations she'll bunt, but otherwise we're going to kind of turn her loose where she's bunting on her own and slapping. That lets her read the defense and she's such a smart kid that she can do that, so it gives us another weapon there. We've got two slappers on the team this year, and that's something we've not had in several years. It should help us in some of these small-ball games."
  "(Gleason is) putting it together. Great job defensively behind the plate as well, she does such a good job helping out our pitchers. Really good day for her."
  Witges and Gleason both had RBIs in the Lady Panthers' five-run first inning, with WItges singling home Dudek, and Gleason doubling in Witges and Mariah Clark, who had also doubled. Hannah Dascotte delivered a two-run single three batters later to make it 5-0.
  Gleason doubled in two more runs in the fifth in front of an RBI single by Kylee Kling. After Gleason's homer in the fourth, Emma Banach singled and scored on Dascotte's second RBI single of the day.
  Dudek (2-4, RBI, 2B), Witges (4-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B), Clark (1-4, RBI, 2B), Gleason (4-4, 5 RBI, 2 2B, HR), Kling (1-4, RBI), Banach (1-2, 2 R, BB), Dascotte (2-3, 3 RBI), Lynlee Lindner (1-3) and Lauren Jackson (1-1, R) had hits for Pinckneyville in their victory at Waltonville. Dudek scattered five hits and a walk while fanning five to get the win.

  The offense wasn't quite as potent on Thursday in the home opener against Herrin, but it was more than enough to get the job done with the Lady Panthers' ace, Clark, working in the circle. Clark gave up just three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts as Pinckneyville improved to 2-0 with a 7-1 win over the Lady Tigers.
  "She threw the ball well," Engelhardt said of Clark. "She tightened up that last inning a little bit. Not very many hard-hit balls, dominant early."
  Already up 1-0 on an RBI single by Dascotte in the second inning to score Kling (double), the Lady Panthers piled on five more runs in the third. Witges singled to start it, then Clark reached on an error, Gleason flew out, and Kling came through with an RBI single. A walk to Banach followed, then Dascotte delivered another RBI on a fielder's choice. She would later score on Kiya Hagene's two-run single that make it 6-0 Pinckneyville.
  "(Dascotte has) swung it real well, that's why she's hitting for us," Engelhardt said. "She deserves to get some at-bats. She had a good day yesterday, had a good day today. When you can start stretching and having deeper and deeper lineups, you become tough to play against."
  Clark helped her own cause with an RBI base hit in the sixth. She was an out away from a shutout on the rubber, but an RBI base hit by Caitlin Kochan in the seventh got Herrin on the board.
  Witges (2-3, 2 R, BB), Clark (2-4, RBI), Gleason (1-4), Kling (2-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B), Dascotte (1-3, R, 2 RBI), and Hagene (1-2, 2 RBI, BB) had the Lady Panthers' hits against Herrin's Calli Sutcliffe.
  "Better pitcher today obviously, she threw with a lot of movement," said Engelhardt. "She got us on our front foot a little bit. We did some things that sometimes don't show up, we get Emma's bunt to get Kylee to third, and then Hannah singles her home. That's the kind of ball you need to play when you're struggling to swing well."
  Pinckneyville hosts Breese Mater Dei at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, then Red Bud ad 1:00 p.m.

(Photos by Doug Daniels / PinckneyvilleSports.com)

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