By Matthew VanTryon
Hendricks County Flyer
Cascade’s softball team took both ends of a doubleheader against county foe Danville on Saturday, thanks in large part to the play of senior Kellie Mink.
Mink scattered three hits over seven innings, while striking out 11, in the opening game, as Cascade hung on for a 2-1 win despite a late Warrior rally.
In the second contest, Mink was called upon in relief to escape a jam. She pitched 1.2 innings in the second game while allowing no runs and going 2 for 4 at the plate with an RBI and scoring two runs.
Mink smiled after the game, but deflected the praise to her teammates.
“I knew I had a strong defense behind me,” she said. “That gives me a lot of confidence knowing I can trust them. I knew if I messed up, my defense would have my back.”
Mink breezed through a majority of the opener in the circle. Danville threatened in the third inning, as its first two batters reached on errors. After a strikeout, Mink walked the next batter to load the bases. She fanned the next batter to escape the jam.
Danville was hitless through four innings, but a single the other way with one out in the fifth inning ruined Minks' no-hit bid.
Mink helped her case in the third inning, as she drew a bases loaded walk to score the Cadets' first run. The Cadets added a second run in the inning as junior Brenna Salee hit a sacrifice fly and scored Morgan Burch for the game-winner.
Cascade threatened in the final frame as an RBI single by Danville's Robin Ford cut the deficit in half and put the go-ahead run on base. Mink coaxed a groundout to preserve the win.
The Cadets won the second game by a more comfortable margin of 12-2.
The Warriors suffered a blow early, as starting pitcher Emma Dwyer had to leave the game with an injury. Danville coach Jennifer Chasteen said the injury hurt the morale of the team.
“The girls kind of felt down after that because we didn’t have a chance to use her,” Chasteen said.
Cascade scored four runs in the fourth inning thanks to three singles and a Warrior miscue. Shelby Collier scored two with an RBI single. Two more came home as the Warriors threw the ball into centerfield attempting to throw out a runner.
Danville threatened in the fifth inning, loading the bases with one away. Mink was called in and retired the next two batters on popouts.
Cascade coach Don Helmick said he was not sure whether or not Mink would be able to go, but she gave the coaching staff the green light.
“She said she had enough gas left, and pitched real well,” he said.
Was Mink hesitant to take the mound in relief in a pressure-filled spot?
“No, not really,” Mink said. “Since my coach had enough confidence to put me back in, I knew I could do it.”
The Cadets added three more runs in the fifth on RBI knocks from Mink and senior Sydney Stein.
The home team delivered the knockout blows in the sixth inning, as Cascade pushed across five runs on three hits and three Danville errors.
Eight of the nine batters in Cascade's lineup had a hit in the contest.
Burch reached base three times and scored three runs.
Helmick said the team came into the day with an idea of turning their season around, and they accomplished that goal.
“You look at Danville’s record, and they’ve beaten a lot of good teams. I wouldn’t say we’ve struggled, but we kind of hit a wall a little bit,” Helmick said. “We decided that today was going to be the day that we were going to turn it back on and focus towards the end of the season. We came out and played real well.”
Danville was left trying to put things together as it prepares for the homestretch.
“I don’t think physically there was an issue. I think it was mental,” she said. “We didn’t stay focused through the whole game, and we’ve got to be more mentally tough. When we started making errors on routine plays, that was a momentum shift. We don’t usually make errors like that.”