Zionsville head softball coach Mike Garrett knew this season was going to be a learning process for his team.
As the Eagles hit the stretch run of this season, they are starting to see the potential of the group. The Eagles topped Class 3A No. 5 Lebanon 6-4 on Monday evening, the team’s third-straight win.
“We know it is a slow process and that we are a young team,” Garrett said. “We are just trying to win an inning at a time, and they are starting to figure it out.”
The Eagles started the season 1-10, but topped Westfield on April 30 12-7, then Western Boone 8-3 on May 3 before topping the Tigers Monday.
Garrett said the team is finding their stride at the right time of the season.
“We took our lumps, but the girls are now thinking through the game and playing smarter,” Garrett said. “They are doing what we are asking them to do, and they are gaining in two areas — the mental and physical. It is good to see, and they are starting to believe what we see in them.”
Abbi Wirey put the Tigers up 1-0 with a solo home run, but the Eagles tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Anna Gobeyn.
Lebanon took a 3-1 lead in the next inning on a 2-run homer by Josie Hollingsworth, but the Tigers would manage just four more hits the rest of the game, and only two in the final four innings.
Madison Swanson got the win, pitching the final five innings. She allowed one run on four hits.
Garrett said the Eagles have been utilizing all their pitchers in games.
“For the pitchers, if I tell them they just need to get six, eight or 10 outs, whatever it may be, it gives them something to shoot for rather than just pitch until you lose it,” Garrett said. “We are giving them a shorter leash, letting them get to their limit and then moving on to the next girl.”
The Eagles took the lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Devin Hardesty led off the inning with a single, and Madison Lenig knocked her in with a single to make it 3-2. With two on and two outs, Lucy Garrett put the Eagles up 4-3 with a 2-run double, and Callie Rheinheimer followed with an RBI-single to make it 5-3.
Zionsville then loaded the bases, and scored when Hardesty was hit by a pitch.
“We got runners on base and got to the point of the order that we wanted with Lucy and Callie coming up,” Garrett said. “We knew if we were going to have a big inning, those two needed to lead us. Lucy has had some big games against Lebanon, and we know a lot of Lebanon’s kids so it’s a fun game.”
Lebanon got a run back in the sixth when Payge Redman hit an RBI-single with two outs, but with the tying runs on base and no outs, the next three batters were retired.
Because of rainouts and make-ups, the Eagles are scheduled to have seven games in the next 10 days to close the regular season.
Garrett said he is hoping the recent success will help the girls as they head into the sectional.
“That’s what we are shooting for,” Garrett said. “We have taken our lumps and have nothing to lose. We want the girls to be mentally and physically exhausted after games and grind it out. The girls are getting after it now, and that’s what we need.”