VANDALIA – Senior Abby Dugan pitched three innings of shutout relief, and the offense had a season-high 11 runs against Pana in picking up the first win of the season.
Dugan allowed just one runner to reach third base in the final three innings of an 11-8 win in the South Central Conference opener, a game that featured seven lead changes.
“We’d take a lead, they’d take a lead,” said Lady Vandals coach Brian Buscher. “That helped us keep our focus.
“We were focused every inning,” he said. “For the most part, we had good at-bats, and it seemed like the girls were more into it.”
Pana left a pair of runners on base in the top of the first inning, and the Lady Vandals took the defensive momentum to the offense, which scored twice in the first inning.
Senior Amber Bruno led off the inning with a double, and after stealing third base, she scored on a single by senior Morgan Whightsil.
She was sacrificed to second by senior Paige Ehrat, and Whightsil came in to score on a single by junior Taylor Well.
“To get them a little looser, I get a little more goofy,” Buscher said. “I didn’t plan that for today, but it worked and got us an early lead.
“Anything that can get these girls thinking positively and gaining confidence, we have to do it.”
Buscher, who was seen laughing from the dugout throughout most of the game, could sense it was going to be a back-and-forth game after the third inning.
Pana took the lead with three runs in the third, taking advantage of a pair of Vandalia errors and two hits.
Whightsil walked and scored on a sacrifice fly by Well, and senior Shelby Foster followed with a walk and scored on a double from senior Austyn Krueger, her second of the game.
The Lady Panthers added three more runs in the top of the fourth, but once again, Vandalia’s offense made a comeback.
Dugan doubled to open the bottom of the frame, and scored on the same play because there was an overthrow from the outfield.
Senior Brittany Anspach reached on an infield single, and Bruno followed with a bunt single. Anspach scored on an error, and Bruno stole home when Ehrat intentionally put herself in a rundown after drawing a walk.
Pana scored two more runs in the fifth inning to chase junior Brandy Protz from the pitcher’s circle, and there were two runners on when Dugan entered the game.
She struck out the first batter she faced, and then induced popups to first base on back-to-back pitches to end the inning.
“That was absolutely huge,” Buscher said. “That’s a tough situation to come into, and to get three outs is great, because everyone is pumped up after that.”
Three Pana errors in the bottom of the sixth inning allowed Vandalia to take the final lead of the game, with sophomore Ashley Swain, Bruno, Whightsil and Ehrat all scoring.
Friday, April 5
WP: Dugan (1-4); 3 IP, 2 K, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB
Lady Vandals: Bruno, 3-for-4, 2B, 3 runs, SB; Krueger, 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI; Well, 1-for-3, 3 RBI, sac bunt; Dugan, 1-for-3, 2B, run; Whightsil, 2-for-2, RBI, 3 runs, 2 BB; Foster, 1-for-3, run, BB; Anspach, 1-for-3, run; Kadi Metzger, 1-for-3; Ehrat, run, BB, sac bunt; A. Swain, run.
Record: 1-6 (1-0 SCC)
On Tuesday, the Lady Vandals fell at Altamont, 12-2.
Senior Amber Bruno was 2-for-3, and senior Austyn Krueger, had an RBI.
Tuesday, April 9
LP: Dugan (1-5); 5 IP, 0 K, 7 R, 9 H, 4 BB
Lady Vandals: Bruno, 2-for-3, 2 SB; Krueger, 1-for-2, RBI; Taylor Well, 1-for-3, run; Shelby Foster, 1-for-2; Morgan Whightsil, 1-for-2; Kadi Metzger, 1-for-3; Paige Ehrat, run, BB.
Last Wednesday, Breese Central scored early and often in a 20-8 drubbing of the Lady Vandals.
Vandalia trailed 20-3 after three innings, but did find some offense in the final two innings, getting seven of its 13 hits in those two innings.
Wednesday, April 3
Breese Central 20
LP: Dugan (0-4); 2 2/3 IP, 0 K, 19 R, 12 H, 5 BB, 2 HP
Lady Vandals: Ehrat, 3-for-4, RBI, run; Foster, 2-for-2, 2B, 2 runs, BB; Bruno, 2-for-4, 2 RBI, run, SB; Well, 2-for-4, RBI, run; Metzger, 1-for-2, 2 runs, BB; Anspach, 1-for-2, RBI; Whightsil, 1-for-4, RBI; Krueger, 1-for-3, RBI; A. Swain, run.