By Jake Thompson
BROWNSBURG — Heading into this season, Bethesda softball coach Terry Benge understood the drawbacks that came with a young, inexperienced team. That may not have been more evident than Thursday night in the Patriots’ sectional final against the Lutheran Saints.
Lutheran took advantage of several Patriots errors en route to a 16-1 win in five innings. Benge credited Lutheran for being a great team but also said his squad helped the Saints along the way.
“They got a taste of sectional softball,” Bethesda coach Terry Benge said of his young team. “We dropped a lot of fly balls and they were freshmen and I hate that for them, but it happened. You just gotta build on it, have patience, and work on it because they will be juniors and seniors at some point.”
Lutheran jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the first following two Bethesda fielding errors. The Saints then retired the Patriots’ batters in consecutive order.
Bethesda gave up another three runs in the top of the second and looked shell-shocked coming back to the dugout down 6-0.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the third that the Patriots began to settle down, holding the Saints to two runs and getting on the scoreboard.
Bethesda sophomore Casey Patterson reached first on a Lutheran error and advanced to second after senior Jordan Benge was thrown out at the next at-bat. Sara Harrison’s single brought Patterson in for the Patriots’ lone score of the day.
Bethesda gave up two more runs in the top of the fourth and trailed, 10-1. Lutheran’s defense sat the Patriots down in consecutive order again and the Saints exploded for six runs in the fifth. A grand slam by the Saints’ Delaney Arnold broke any hope of getting into the sixth and seventh innings.
“Twice our dropped fly balls extended the inning and then the homer came,” Benge said. “You have to think that all of those runs don’t make the board without those mistakes, but I’m sure some do.”
Bethesda loses just two seniors in Benge and centerfielder Kendra Okey and duo’s leadership and experience will be missed.
“They brought a lot of hustle,” Benge said of the pair. “Kendra’s bat came from three years of averaging in the mid .200’s and this year she’s spent most of the year in the .400’s and that was huge.
“Jordan moved to shortstop from third base and that put a lot of pressure on her and it doesn’t help that she’s (my) daughter and (that) really adds more pressure and she just handled it.”
With a bit of offseason work, Benge hopes the returners will grow from this loss as they now all look towards next year.
“You want the younger girls pick up on that and just try to build,” Benge said. “My freshmen were a little starry eyed at the plate and you have to expect that. I think this experience was good for them today and we’ll start of next season right from this step.”