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Dazzling debut

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Connersville Middle School hurler Kindred Conley displays her form on a pitch against New Caste at Spartan Field on Tuesday night. Conley struck out nine in CMS' softball debut, helping to lead the Spartan girls to a 14-4 victory.
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Connersville Middle School seventh-grader Braxton Myers fields a ground ball against Doe Creek (New Palestine), Tuesday night at Spartan Field. Myers and the Spartan boys won the game with a 3-0 shutout.
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Pictured is the 2018 Connersville Middle School softball team.The teamtook the field for thefirsttime in school history Tuesday night at home against New Castle. The Lady Spartansdebuted with a 14-4 win.
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Connersville Middle School catcher Chance Bentley throws down to second base prior to the start of the third inning against Doe Creek (New Palestine), Tuesday night at Spartan Field. For Bentley and his teammates, the game wasCMS' first-ever home baseball game.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

On Monday, the Connersville Middle School baseball team shined in its school debut, thwarting Knightstown in a 14-3 victory.

On Tuesday night, it was the girls' turn.

Taking the field for the first time in school history, the CMS softball team matched the opener by their male counterparts nearly identically, cruising to a 14-4 win over New Castle.

"I think this is the biggest game of these girls' lives, whether they realize it or not," Connersville Middle School head coach Dennis Ellis said. "It's the first ever game of middle school softball, it's a victory, and we had a girl hit a grand slam in the game. It just doesn't get any better than that."

While the Lady Spartans were winning their opener, just across campus the Connersville boys were putting the finishing touches on their second win in two nights, beating Doe Creek (New Palestine) 3-0.

On the softball diamond, CMS took advantage of a strong pitching performance, and some solid work at the plate. As a result, the Spartans were never seriously threatened in the game, as they built an 11-0 lead by the close of the third inning.

Lakyah Scott jump-started the Connersville offense, smacking a first-inning home run to chase teammates Kerstin Ellis and Tori Hanson, both of whom had reached base with walks, across the plate ahead of her.

"Watching Lakyah pound that ball out in right field in her first at-bat, was a great thing to see," Ellis said.

But the biggest hit of the game was still to come.

In the second inning, a walk to both Katie Fisher and Kara Schneider was followed by Ellis getting hit by a pitch. That brought Hanson to the plate, the eighth-grader turning on a full-count delivery and depositing the ball over the fence for the school's first grand slam.

"I had to settle them down a little after the grand slam, as the girls got so excited, jumping around when she reached the plate," coach Ellis said, adding with a chuckle, "I was worried that Tori might get hurt."

Given the large lead, CMS hurler Kindred Conley had only minor problems the rest of the way. She finished with nine strikeouts, while scattering seven hits and allowing four earned runs.

"Kindred pitch a solid game on the mound, keeping (New Castle) from getting anything going in the way of a big rally," Ellis said. "I think our strength today was her pitching, along with some very good at-bats the first time through our line-up. Those were the keys to winning this game."

That said, the CMS mentor added that there was at least one area that could use a little work.

 

"We still need to work a little bit more at the plate," he said. "We've got four or five girls really hitting the ball, but there are still a few that are struggling a little bit."

 

CONNERSVILLE 3, DOE CREEK 0

Following its 14-run, 11-hit effort against Knightstown on Monday, things did not come easy for the Spartans 24-hours later against Doe Creek.

CMS scored once in the second inning, then added two more tallies in the third, but that was all the team could muster on the scoreboard against the Bucks.

Hitting was a premium as well for the Spartans in their second outing, as they were limited to a double by Gavin Lynch in the first inning, and a single by Brayden Lykins in the second.

"For this early in the season with the weather the way it was, it was really good baseball played by both teams," coach Eric Myers said. "Both teams put the ball in play, showed great defense, and made the plays that you expected they would make. It was a really good baseball game.

"I was really impressed with both teams today."

Scoring in the game for CMS was Lykins in the second inning, and the duo of Lynch and Braxton Myers in the second.

The rest was up to Connersville hurlers Kaleb Sparks and Lynch.

"I do think that our pitchers did a great job tonight," coach Myers said. "Gavin came in and finished the last four innings, throwing strikes. Kaleb Sparks also threw a lot of strikes through his first three innings of work. Both worked through some tough situations during their time on the mound.

"Both of them learned that throwing strikes and pitching to contact — allowing their defense to help them out — really makes a difference in those situations."

Watching his charges win a blowout in their opener, followed by a hard-fought victory in their second game has encouraged coach Myers going forward.

 

"I am very confident in this team," he said. "We might not make the spectacular plays, but with those that we're supposed to make, I have faith that these kids will do that, no matter who is playing where on the field.

The kids are learning that, in baseball, if you don't give a team extra baserunners or extra outs, you have a chance to win."

 

SOFTBALL

Lady Spartans 14, Lady Trojans 4

(at Spartan Field)

New Castle`000`22`—`4`7`2

Connersville`353`12`—`14`8`0

WP: Kindred Conley (1-0)

LP: Michaela Hamby (0-1)

New Castle (0-1) — Michaela Hamby 0-2, Presley Gibson 1-2, Lilly Raines 0-2, Taija Owens 0-1, Hannah Essert 2-3, Lexy Jarvis 2-3, Ava Stearns 0-3, Maddie Mathews 1-2, Kayla Burns 0-2, Savannah Brummett 1-2. Totals 7-22.

Connersville (1-0) — Kerstin Ellis 1-2, Tori Hanson 2-3, Kindred Conley 1-3, Lakyah Scott 2-4, Shelby Wolski 1-2, Kendra Boyd 1-3, Katie Fisher 0-1, Karli Boulware 0-0, Abby Badore 0-1, Kamren Stant 0-2, Kara Schneider 0-0, Sydney Grounds 0-1. Totals 8-22.

Home run — Connersville 2 (Hanson, Scott). 2B — New Castle 1 (Jarvis), Connersville 2 (Hanson, Scott). RBI — New Castle 4 (Jarvis 2, Essert, Mathews), Connersville 9 (Hanson 5, Scott 3, Ellis 1). Runs — New Castle 4 (Essert 2, Gibson, Jarvis), Connersville 14 (Ellis 3, Hanson 3, Conley 2, Fisher, Scott, Wolski, Boulware, Schneider, Grounds). Stolen base — New Castle 4 (Essert 2, Mathews, Brummett), Connersville 3 (Wolski 2, Conley 1). Left on base — New Castle 3, Connersville 2.

— — —

BASEBALL

Spartans 3, Bucks 0

(at Spartan Field)

Doe Creek`000`000`0`—`0`3`2

Connersville`012`000`x`—`3`2`1

WP: Kaleb Sparks

LP: Noah Johnson

Doe Creek — Baylor Hurst 0-3, Wes Stiller 0-1, Blaine Nunnally 0-3, Noah Johnson 1-3, Nolan Cox 0-1, Brock Whitaker 0-3, Luke Tucher 0-2, Jacob Stotts 1-2, A.J. Reterson 1-2, Landon Beaty 0-2. Totals 3-22.

Connersville (2-0) — Gavin Pearson 0-2, Gavin Lynch 1-2, Chance Bentley 0-3, Braxton Myers 0-2, Brayden Lykins 1-2, Kaleb Sparks 0-2, Ethan Williams 0-2, Chanler Fox 0-0, Mitchell Blakely 0-2, Gavin Jones 0-1, Cyle Siefert 0-0, Riley Brannon 0-1, Luck Morris 0-0, Grant Nickloy 0-0. Totals 2-19.

2B — Connersville 1 (Lynch). RBI — Connersville 2 (Myers, Jones). Runs — Connersville 3 (Lynch, Myers, Lykins). Stolen base — Connersville 1 (Myers). Caught stealing — Doe Creek 1 (Cox), Connersville 1 (Pearson). Left on base — Doe Creek 9, Connersville 7.