Local Sports

Class 4A, No. 9 Columbus North capitalizes at right time to defeat 4A No. 15 Shelbyville

Columbus North capitalized where Shelbyville failed.

Class 4A, No. 9 Columbus North pushed a run across in the top of the seventh inning and Maddi Rutan struck out the side in the bottom half of the inning to defeat 4A No. 15 Shelbyville, 1-0, Thursday.

The Golden Bears missed an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Hailey Pogue greeted Rutan, who just took over in the pitcher’s circle, with a standup triple.

The Eastern Kentucky recruit settled in and induced two infield fly ball outs around a strikeout to keep the game scoreless going to the seventh.

With two outs in the seventh, Payton Morris singled, stole second base and scored on Kaylee Cowan’s double for the only run in the contest.

Cheyenne Eads took the loss despite allowing just four hits and striking out five in seven innings.

Shelbyville (2-2) has lost three of its last four meetings with the Bull Dogs (2-0-1), who will host the Sectional 14 tournament in late May.

The Golden Bears played Thursday without star shortstop Kylee Edwards, who missed the game with an illness. The Mississippi State-bound infielder is hitting .538 early this season with three home runs.

“I think this is the first one,” said Shelbyville head coach Mark Hensley when asked how many games he has coached without Edwards in the lineup. “I don’t think she has missed any games as far as I remember. I remember one game one time where we were up a whole bunch and I took her out in the fifth inning. She got so mad at me and wouldn’t talk to me for about two days. From then on, I decided to just let her stay in every single game no matter what.

“She has been sick all week and can’t seem to shake it. She felt like she could play today but her health is more important than a game the first week of April.”

Columbus North debuted a new look against Shelbyville, who has battled Rutan for the last two seasons. Morris, a heralded freshman, made her first start in the pitching circle.

She limited the Golden Bears to three hits, walked two and hit a batter and benefitted from a pair of double plays turned by her defense.

With Edwards on track to graduate as well as Pogue and starting outfielders Abby Brenner and Riley Maulden, Hensley took a look Thursday at players that will fill out the 2024 roster. The final six players in the batting lineup were sophomores and freshmen.

“I would imagine those six players, I’m sure they’ve seen some pretty good pitching in travel ball but it’s been awhile since they’ve seen somebody that looked like (Rutan), who was throwing hard today,” said Hensley. “That is part of it too. I was pleased with our approach at the plate. I know we struck out some with those girls at the bottom part of the lineup, but their approaches were good. We took some good swings at her. They weren’t chasing terrible pitches.”

Shelbyville faces another Sectional 14 opponent today when it hosts East Central (1-2) at 5:30 p.m.

The Golden Bears open their Hoosier Heritage Conference schedule Saturday morning when New Castle (0-3) visits for a 10 a.m. scheduled first pitch.

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