Bulldogs erase early deficit to improve to 4-1


LAPEL — Greenfield-Central and first-year head coach Gary Roberts couldn’t have asked for a better opening half-inning to the 2024 softball season.

A leadoff Josie White single, a Kristen Wineinger walk and a Savvanna Riall two-run double put the Cougars ahead 2-0 just three batters into the game and their season.

But while the Cougars were playing their season opener, Lapel was playing their fifth.

That early season experience helped the Bulldogs make sure the next six innings went in their favor.

After falling behind 3-0, the Bulldogs (4-1) fought back on a windy night at their home field in a 7-3 win against the Cougars (0-1).

“We’re young, we’ll learn from this and get better. There were a lot of positives,” Roberts said. “A lot of positives but we’ve got some things to work on and we’re going to go do that.”

Along with the two-run Riall double, a sacrifice fly by Charlotte Riehle capped off Greenfield-Central’s opening half-inning.

In the first inning, Lapel threatened at the plate as well.

Krystin Davis walked to open the bottom of the inning, Tatum Harper was hit by a pitch and Ava Everman walked to load the bases with nobody out. A double play to Riall at third and a ground ball to White at shortstop stalled things for the Bulldogs.

But in the second, the control issues plagued Greenfield-Central starting pitcher Madysen Herbert again, and this time Lapel made sure to take advantage.

Herbert walked three of the first four batters in the inning before being replaced by freshman Addi Heacox.

“I like for them to be aggressive but also disciplined,” Lapel head coach A.J. Balser said. “We teach them to wait for their pitch.”

A Harper walk brought in the first run of the game for the Bulldogs and later in the frame, a two-run single by Laylah Gore tied things at 3-3.

The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game and scored the eventual winning run on a Delaney Balser solo home run in the third inning, and in the fourth inning, they added to the lead.

“Our bats are hot right now,” Balser said. “I keep telling the girls to swing their bats and good things will happen.”

A two-run home run by Gore ended Heacox’s night before another freshman, Ailea Dowdy, replaced her. Dowdy allowed one run in the inning on a Karlie Jannings single before settling in. She retired seven of the final eight Lapel batters.

“I think Addi did pretty well for being a freshman. I know she was nervous,” Roberts said. “Ailea did very well for us and settled things down.”

While the Lapel offense poured on runs, in the circle starting pitcher Addison Bodenhorn found her stride. After the opening three hitters reached base against her, Bodenhorn retired 18 of the next 20 batters.

A Makenna Rankins walk and a Riall single in the sixth were the only two Cougars to get on base until the seventh inning.

Bodenhorn pitched the complete game and picked up her first win of her high school career.

She gave up five hits and four runs while striking out nine and walking just three batters.

“We have a pretty deep pitching staff, so that has helped us out a lot and has worked in our favor,” Balser said. “Addi’s a freshman, so it took her a minute to get her bearings straight and to get going, but once she did, she settled down. She’s a strong pitcher and just a good player all around.”

In the seventh, Rankins walked again and later scored on an Allison Hornaday single to cut the Cougars’ deficit to 7-4, but Bodenhorn got White to fly out and Wineinger to pop out to end the game.

Lapel played Tuesday after press time against Frankton in a Madison County Tournament preview.

The Bulldogs will be on spring break and will return to action on April 9 against the Eagles in their opening game of the annual county tournament.

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