Cougars overcome 2-1 deficit and beat Tippecanoe 10-2 for first conference win.
TIPP CITY — Tippecanoe had no answer for Kenton Ridge outfielder Learic Kinser in a conference opener on Monday. Tipp coach Clay Lavercombe jokingly asked Kenton Ridge coach Sarah Schalnat midway through the game to have Kinser call her shots at the plate.
“That’s the only way we’ll know where’s she’s hitting the ball,” Lavercombe said.
It still may not have helped Tippecanoe the way Kinser hit pitcher Megan Rittenhouse. Kinser hit on the first pitch of every at-bat and sent the ball to every point in the outfield during the game.
Kinser and fellow senior outfielder Brittany Harting’s hitting helped the Cougars pull away from Tippecanoe in late innings to a 10-2 win.
“If you lose confidence, you get down on yourself and you don’t know how to come back,” Kinser said after the game. “We were down at one point, and we just had to talk each other up and after that, we were good.”
Kinser was 4-for-5 with four RBI’s, four runs and two stolen bases. Harting was 3-for-5 with three RBI’s and one stolen base. The two outfielders knocked in a combined six runs in the last two innings to help the Cougars break open a 2-2 tie.
“It’s always nice when Learic can get on and get us started,” Schalnat said. “She’s already having a great season this year. She’s been able to hit the ball and slap it and bunt it. It’s nice that she can a lot of times get to second base when we get our second batter up. Harting’s been focused so far and is doing a great job too.”
Sarah Albaugh started off the sixth with a single, and Rittenhouse then walked Mariyah Burkhardt. Carlie Castiaux followed with a single to load the bases for Kenzie Tyson, and Tyson hit a ground out to third that scored Albaugh.
Kinser then reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Burkhardt and Castiuax, and Harting followed with an RBI single to boost the Cougars’ lead to 6-2.
The Cougars then piled four more runs in the seventh inning. Kinser hit a three-RBI triple in the seventh, and Harting followed with another RBI single.
“I think the kids finally started to relax in the sixth inning and started to get into a rhythm,” Schalnat said. “I told them at the beginning of the fourth when we were down 2-1 to relax. We were hitting on our front foot and hitting the ball off the end of the bat. The biggest thing is to relax in the batter’s box.”
It was the first time the Cougars (4-0, 1-0 CBC Kenton Trail) had been in a tight game. Kenton Ridge earned run-rule wins in its first three games and pulled away early in each.
Kinser led off the game with a single and stole second base while Harting was at the plate. Harting then hit a single to score Kinser and give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
The Red Devils answered in the second inning when sophomore Kaitlyn Stocker hit a deep fly to center field that bounced off the top of the fence for a home run. The homer was Stocker’s third this season. Stocker hit a deep double in the fourth inning and then scored when Lauren Goodall hit a single on Tipp’s next at-bat.
Kenton Ridge answered in the top of the fifth. Kinser led off the inning with a single, and Mykee Holtz hit a single three batters later to send her home.
“I was proud that we kept up after a slow start,” Schalnat said. “We didn’t let down and kind of went even keel through the game and ended up hitting the ball there towards the end of the game.”
Courtney Lopez (4-0) went all seven innings in the circle for Kenton Ridge. Lopez gave up four hits and struck out two batters. Rittenhouse picked up the loss; she gave up 13 hits and three walks in the game.
Tippecanoe (3-2, 0-1) travels to Ed Foulk Field tonight to play the Cougars in the second game of the series.