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SOFTBALL: BNL winning the arms race

Rebecca Schoenung

Rebecca Schoenung

Mackenzie Silvers

Mackenzie Silvers

Cassidy Morron

Cassidy Morron

Pitching depth key

as Stars start chase

for sectional title

By Justin Sokeland

TheHHCSports.com

Bedford North Lawrence softball is winning the arms race.

Success in the sport is predicated on pitching. Everything hinges on the girl in the circle, 43 feet from home plate. With one quality hurler, victories came in great quantities. The Stars have three, and might use them all in every game during the 2013 campaign.

Video: BNL softball 2013 season preview

BNL, rebuilding its lineup following the loss of six seniors and five starters from last year’s 17-11 run, will be a young team in constant flux, shuffling lineups, positions and pitchers from game to game, even inning to inning. Only two seniors top the roster.

But the youth comes with talent and versatility. The pitching could lock it all in place.

BNL coach Brad Gilbert

BNL coach Brad Gilbert

“We have three pitchers that will see time, and we’re excited about that because we can give teams different looks,” said BNL coach Brad Gilbert, in the sixth year of his second stint with the program. “We have three kids that would be starters on a lot of teams.”

The anchor is junior Cassidy Morron, who accounted for all the wins last season (17-9 with a  2.15 ERA). The addition of junior Mackenzie Silvers (who pitched as a freshman at Orleans but sat out last season after moving to BNL) and the development of sophomore Rebecca Schoenung will allow Gilbert the luxury of allowing opposing hitters one crack at a pitcher before facing another the next time through the order.

Hit ‘em with your best shot. Fire away.

“When you go back and look at some of our losses, it was just one inning,” Gilbert said. “Our pitching has to be strong enough that we don’t have a couple of walks, we don’t have a couple of errors. We need to put together seven full innings.”

Graduation left some holes. Gilbert’s daughter Bailey, a four-time All-HHC shortstop, hit .386 with eight doubles and 16 RBIs last year, and she left as the school’s career leader in home runs, doubles and RBIs. Other offensive gaps were created by the departure of outfielders Kristen Salm (.395, 29 runs scored) and Portia Baker (.3537), and catcher Shelby Pittman (.325).

Emily Pritchett

Emily Pritchett

Kaci Ikerd

Kaci Ikerd

After junior Kaci Ikerd (.300 with 18 RBIs as she slides from third base to shortstop), the bats get quiet. After seniors Emily Pritchett (infield) and Emily Weber (first base), the experience is limited. “It’s important for us to step up and show them what to do,” Pritchett said. “We always want to win.”

To address the issue, BNL spent the bulk of the offseason in the batting cage. Even with lock-down pitching, some runs must be scored. The lineup will be adjusted accordingly. The hottest hitters will get the first call.

“The lineup changes so much, depending on who gets hot,” Gilbert said. “I think we know who will catch (Justice Kline) and play short, but I don’t know that we will ever say ‘This is our starting nine.’ It will depend on who is on the circle and how we rotate. More than any other year, we’ve got kids that will play different positions.”

The Stars have not won a sectional since 2000. They came agonizingly close to that title, and the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament crown, last season, falling to nemesis Floyd Central by one run in extra innings in both championship games. The Highlanders are their target.

“We came so close last year, just one run and we could have had it,” Ikerd said. “We need to keep working hard.”