RUSSELLVILLE — Even the offensive juggernaut that was the Bryant Lady Hornets last[more] season struggled a bit when faced with Russellville Lady Cyclones freshman pitcher Andrea Kindrick. Now she’s a sophomore and that much better.
On Thursday, the Lady Hornets, who may well become an offensive juggernaut in their own right in time, opened the 2013 season facing Kindrick, who’s already drawing interest from Division I college programs, and were shut out on one hit.
Russellville scored two unearned runs in the first inning and got no more against Bryant’s sophomore lefty Jordan Williams but it was enough for Kindrick in a 2-0 victory.
“When we beat them 4-0 last year, we had a squeeze play with Jessie Taylor,” recalled Lady Hornets coach Debbie Clark, recalling her record-setting slugger, who squeezed in the first run of that game to break up a 0-0 contest late. “That’s how good (Kindrick) is. We just couldn’t hit her. She’s got a wicked rise ball.
“She’s a sophomore this year and stronger, faster and better,” the coach added. “She can hit up to 65 (mph). So we knew it was going to be a tough game but we needed our young hitters to be exposed to that.”
It wasn’t supposed to be the season opener for the Lady Hornets. But for the rain earlier in the week, which postponed their game at Beebe, they’d have had one under the belts before facing Thursday’s challenge.
“We put the ball in play six times,” Clark said. “We got one hit and we had a walk. The only occasion when we got anything going was the first inning before (Kindrick) had settled in. It was their first game too and she was wild. Katy Stillman was very patient and she walked. Then Bre Sanders, I put on the bunt play with her. She had done well and laid off a couple of pitches for balls then she went to bunt what looked like a strike to her. Of course, it was a rise ball and it got above her hands and she popped it up.
“Those things happen,” she continued. “She did what I asked her to do. She tried to bunt a strike but the pitcher’s really good and made it look like a strike.”
The next two Lady Hornets struck out.
The only other Bryant base-runner was Sydney Gogus, who lined a single to right with two out in the top of the fourth.
“Really, the only hitters that had seen (Kindrick) were Kaley Coppock, Katy Stillman and Carly Yazza,” Clark mentioned. “But they struggled too with her.
“She’s not one we’re going to see every week,” she added. “I don’t know if we’ll see another one like her. But I needed to see how our players would respond under pressure. I needed to see, if they struck out, how they would respond. Were they going to get frustrated? You have to see that.
“Honestly, the score should’ve been 0-0 at the end of seven,” the coach asserted. “That first inning we made two errors on one ground ball hit to our pitcher. You can’t do that. Jordan’s left-handed, so she takes a different angle to the ball and to step and throw. She’s going across her body. She made a bad throw and then, in right field, it went between the legs of the right fielder. Then on the throw-in to second, we throw it to the middle of the infield.
“The same thing happened with the center fielder the next inning. Those are the type of mistakes we don’t make, especially when you’re facing a 65-mile per hour pitcher.
“After the first inning, people did get on base and we did make a couple more errors but we ended on a good note. Jordan faced four batters in the fourth inning then the last two innings, she faced three (each). That was what we were looking for.”
The Lady Hornets are set to open their home schedule on Thursday, March 7, against Greenbrier.
“We’re just going to keep working hard,” Clark said. “There are lots of things that we have to work on and that’s a good thing because we can fix them. And if they’ll listen to us, we can make those changes.”