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The Lady Vandals sent nine hitters to the plate in the first inning against Pana to score four runs.
That would have been enough to beat Pana during the 5-2 win last Friday, but senior Whitney Newsom hit a towering home run to center in the fifth to give Vandalia some extra security in its second South Central Conference win of the season.
“Our game plan was to make sure we were mentally and physically ready to play, and we did that,” said coach Brian Buscher. “We’ve had plenty of close games where we have come back and won, so I know it’s in them.”
The win came two days after the Lady Vandals played poorly during a 6-2 loss to Breese Central.
Buscher told his players after that loss that they needed to play more consistently and to be prepared to face every team.
The lesson apparently stuck.
Leadoff hitter Morgan Whightsil, a sophomore, worked the count full in the first inning before reaching after a pop up landed just a few feet in front of home plate.
Sophomore Amber Bruno followed with a six-pitch walk, and freshman Megan Godoyo took five pitches to a draw a walk.
“It was great,” Buscher said of the first three hitters. “They can be selective at the plate and look for their pitch; it helps if the pitcher is struggling and you don’t help her.”
Newsom was then hit by a pitch to drive in a run, and senior Audra Donaldson reached on a fielder’s choice, but Bruno was gunned down at home.
The next three hitters – senior Amy Walton, junior Alex Henna and freshman Taylor Well – all hit bases-loaded singles to give Vandalia a 4-1 lead.
Pana added a run in the third, but Godoyo then struck out the next three batters to halt the Lady Panthers’ momentum.
Pana, however, still seemed to have a winning demeanor, but after Newsom’s home run, the Lady Panthers lost some of their confidence.
“One thing that we keep talking about is, we want to score,” Buscher said. “We’d had a couple of innings where we had a hit or two and got runners, but weren’t putting runs on the board.”
Pana threatened in the seventh, getting two base runners with one out, but leadoff batter Chrissy DeClerck flew out to right on the first pitch of her at-bat for the second out and the final batter struck out swinging one pitch after an assistant coach was ejected for protesting a low pitch that was called a strike.
“It feels really good to beat Pana,” Buscher said, even though one of its top players is injured.
Vandalia vs. Altamont
On Tuesday, the Lady Vandals lost to Altamont, 13-2.
Whightsil scored in the bottom of the first inning, but the Lady Vandals already trailed, 3-0.
Newsom and Donaldson both were 2-for-3 with one RBI.