CULVER — It wasn’t always pretty, but the Lady Dragons got their first win Wednesday.
Argos jumped out to an 11-0 lead over the first four innings and held off a tenacious Culver Community squad to break into the win column, 20-6, on the road in Culver.
“This is the first game that I’ve had all of my players available to play. The first game I didn’t have four of my players, so this was more of a team effort,” said Argos softball coach Alyssa Thayer.
“There were a couple little things that I wasn’t too impressed with, but overall I think we did okay for our second game. It showed me that we can hit and we can field, and we can do those things that we’ve been practicing.”
Up 11-0 headed into the bottom of the fifth, the Dragons had a chance to put the game away in five, but the Cavaliers rallied with six runs to extend the game to a full seven-inning outing.
After pitcher Megan Brady helped her own cause leading off the inning with a single into shallow center, Emily Shidler drew a walk from Argos pitcher Allison Flower, and Maddy Strycker grounded back to Flower, who flipped a fielder’s choice ball over to third to get Brady. Janele VanDePutte grounded back to Flower on the next at-bat, but a catching error at third loaded the bases to set the table for Kayla Shaffer — a first-year player and former Culver track standout filling in at short for senior Ali Overmyer Wednesday — and Shaffer delivered a two-run line shot into right to put Culver on the scoreboard, down 11-2.
Sophomore reserve Haley Klimaszewski kept the rally going with an RBI single into shallow right to score VanDePutte, and Angela Lewellen drove in Shaffer on a groundout to short, cutting the Cavs’ deficit to 11-4 and giving the home team new life.
Argos responded with a pair of runs on a two-strike, two-run liner into right by Missy Golden in the sophomore’s first at-bat of the night in the top of the sixth, but the Culver bats stayed hot as they scratched out another two runs on a trio of Argos errors in the bottom of the inning to bring the score to 13-6.
“They put the bat on the ball, and once we started doing that, good things happened,” said Culver head coach Gene Baker. “They make a couple mistakes, we get a couple good hits, and we can start moving around the bases. A lot of girls that don’t give up.”
It was too little, too late, however, and the Dragons saved their best for last with a seven-run seventh taking advantage of four Culver errors and four hits, including two by their reserves.
Jamie Ewing doubled in Courtney DeMont, Gabby Bennett singled in Jenny Fishburn with the bags packed after Ewing was walked home, Bennett scored on a passed ball in Charlie Horn’s last at-bat, and Horn drove in Raelynn LaFrance with a looper into shallow center, bringing the margin to its final when Michelle Elam was left stranded after reaching for Culver on a throwing error in the bottom of the seventh.
All total, the Dragons put up 13 hits in the win and got solid production from throughout the order, led by Horn’s 3-of-6, four-RBI performance as well as LaFrance’s 2-of-4 finish with four runs — the junior Argos catcher also drew a pair of walks to reach base in 5-of-6 at-bats Wednesday — and Flower’s 2-of-6 finish with three runs scored.
Flower scored the visitors’ first run of the night after reaching on an infield error in the top of the first to put the pressure on Culver early, and she earned the pitching win with six strikeouts while giving up three walks and four hits going the distance inside the circle. The senior right-hander had a no-hitter going through four innings, but Brady ended the bid with her lead-off single the second time through the Culver order in the fifth.
The Dragons also saw some good things from their reserves, who Thayer began subbing in early after her team’s initial 11-0 start.
“I’m trying to use some of the girls that haven’t played a whole lot and get them in the game and let them get that experience,” said Thayer. “I’m trying to get everybody to play. This is the first game that I’ve actually been able to do that, and I think it got into some of their heads a little bit, but overall I think we did okay.”
Argos moves to an even 1-1 with its first win on the heels of a season-opening loss at South Bend Clay last Thursday. The team now begins a two-game homestand with a game tonight against LaVille at 5 p.m. EST and another Saturday versus visiting Triton at 11 a.m.
“The girls have experience and they know what they’re doing now,” said Thayer. “Defensively, we’re starting to figure things out compared to what we’ve done in the past few years. I think with that overall experience, that’s big for Argos, and I think they can do a lot of things this year.”
Culver opens at 0-1 with the loss, meanwhile, and will have a five-day layover before beginning a hectic four-game stretch next week beginning with a home game against South Central Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. EST and ending with another home contest versus West Central Saturday at 10 a.m.
It wasn’t the result Baker and his players were looking for, but the rally late by the Cavs made it one to grow on.
“With the weather we’ve only been out maybe three or four times, and you can’t do a lot inside,” Baker said. “They started getting into it, they started making better plays, and a lot of our girls are playing positions for the first time.
“A lot of things to work on, but… these girls they definitely fight. Once they started getting the timing down and starting getting the bat on the ball, we had some positive things.”
• ARGOS 20, CULVER 6
Argos: 513 202 7 — 20 13 7
Culver: 000 042 0 — 6 4 12
Allison Flower (W) and Raelynn LaFrance; Megan Brady (L) and Alecia Rearick.
2B: Horn (A), Jenny Fishburn (A), Jamie Ewing (A).
Records: Argos 1-1, Culver 0-1