Since the calendar has flipped to May, the Madison-Grant Argylls have played their best softball of the season.
Coming into their Central Indiana Conference showdown with Oak Hill, the Argylls had won seven straight contests, five by double digits, through an effective combination of efficient offensive production, stout defense, and stellar pitching.
And on Wednesday night in Fairmount, all of those factors, particularly the dominant pitching of Elizabeth Lee, played a factor in Madison-Grant’s eighth straight triumph, a 4-0 shutout of the Golden Eagles.
Wednesday’s win marked Madison-Grant’s second over Oak Hill this season. The Argylls also defeated the Golden Eagles 12-2 in the Grant Four championship back on May 1.
From opening pitch to the final out, Lee kept a strong Oak Hill lineup at bay, spinning a brilliant complete-game shutout.
Over the course of seven innings, the sophomore never allowed the Golden Eagles to find any sort of rhythm, allowing only three hits, two of which were singles, and two walks while striking out four.
“Today, our pitching was solid,” Madison-Grant Head Coach Travis Havens said. “Elizabeth did a nice job with the off-speed stuff and kept [the Oak Hill] batters off balance. That’s what we hoped she would do,” Haven said. “And she did well.”
While the Golden Eagles did make solid contact on numerous occasions, the Argylls’ defense did its job behind Lee, making both the routine, and incredible, plays. Sophomore Daya Greene made several remarkable catches early, robbing the Golden Eagles of some extra-base hits, as did Sydney Lee later in the contest to keep Oak Hill off the scoreboard.
“[Lee] got some nice pop-ups. She got some nice, induced popups,” Oak Hill Head Coach Ben Johnson said “She got the hit balls out of us that she wanted. We put the ball in play, but they made good plays.”
From the onset, it was clear that the Argylls would be aggressive on the basepaths, and in all three innings in which they scored, their baserunning played a role. Greene opened the contest with a one-out single and immediately swiped second, putting a runner in scoring position. Two batters later, a Chelsea Parker grounder was misplayed by the Oak Hill defense and Greene capitalized, crossing home plate to give Madison-Grant a 1-0 lead.
The Argylls added to their lead in the third, again using effective baserunning to their advantage. Leadoff batter Chelsea Bowland got on base with a single before stealing both and second and third base, and Sarah Duncan took advantage, plating Bowland with an RBI groundout for the 2-0 lead.
“A couple of errors led to two unearned runs. You give up two earned runs to a team that good, we should probably win the ball game,” Johnson said. “But they pieced together hits and they were aggressive on the bases.”
With Lee cruising in the circle, two more runs in the fourth frame put the Argylls in complete control. With Sydney Lee and Zoey Barnett on first and second with two outs, back-to-back singles from Hannah Ogden and Bowland pushed both runners across for the eventual final tally.
As was the case for many softball teams across the state of Indiana, the Argylls were hampered by the lack of playing and practice time in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the season has progressed, the Argylls have found their groove in every aspect of the game of softball, and it has paid off over the last two weeks.
“It’s about the players. The success is always about the players,” Havens said. “We hurt by not having last season. It took us about 10 games to figure [everything] out [because] we’ve got 15 kids in uniform we believe can all play. We scrambled for a while to figure out who plays where. It took the kids a little to get adjusted to that…but our kids bought in, they believe, and when you have good pitching and good defense, you can win a lot of games.”
Bowland finished the contest 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Greene, Ogden, Elizabeth Lee, Sydney Lee collected the other four knocks for the Argylls. For Oak Hill, Treniti Thurman continued her strong season, compiling two of Oak Hill’s three hits, including a double.
Being that it was Senior Night, the Argylls celebrated the careers and accomplishments of Ogden, Duncan, Barnett, and Sydney Lee, all of whom have left a lasting impression on the Argylls’ softball program. However, this Senior Night was a little more somber in nature, as the team also celebrated the life, and legacy, of senior Khloe Martin, whose life came to a violent and tragic end this past December.
All of the players wore Martin’s No. 14 on the back of their jerseys in the honor of their classmate and friend, and while Martin may have not been there physically, her spirit permeated the dugout, the players and coaches, and the entire atmosphere of Jay Dunlap Field.
The Argylls played, and ultimately won, for her.
“Our kids were definitely focused on that,” Havens said. “The game was secondary at that point. Every timeout, they were yelling ‘Khloe’ or ’14.’ It was emotional, but it says a lot about our kids. They played for her.”