NEW PALESTINE — When sophomore leadoff hitter Ashley Prange gets on base for Class 3A No. 2 New Palestine, the Dragons are tough to stop. And when Casey Lehman, Issy Hoyt and Madison Whitaker follow suit, New Palestine is nearly impossible to beat.
As the top four batters in the Dragons’ lineup this season, the foursome has registered 60 percent of the team’s hits. It continued on Tuesday against Cathedral as Prange, Lehman, Hoyt and Whitaker all reached base in the first inning — and multiple times throughout the game — on way to a 14-3 five-inning win over visiting Cathedral.
New Palestine (12-2), which finished with seven hits, struck early and scored eight times in the first inning off just five hits — all singles.
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“We are very fortunate there; the top four batters in our lineup are very good hitters,” Dragons head coach Ed Marcum said. “We really hit all the way through the order. Something we’ve really tried to focus on is having a fast start.”
Senior pitcher Abbey White limited the Irish (10-9) offense to seven hits and three runs to earn the win before being replaced by junior Elisha Barker with one out in the fourth inning. White is now 4-0 this season.
Junior first baseman Mary Crumlin, the team’s No. 7 hitter, led the offense on Tuesday, though, finishing 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
“That’s the advantage of having depth,” Marcum added. “She (Crumlin) is a very good hitter. She was batting fifth, but she seems more comfortable in the seven spot. She had great at-bats today.”
Prange, who starts at shortstop, led off the game with a single up the middle and Lehman followed with a walk. Hoyt would then single up the middle to score Prange and Whitaker would reach on a hit-by-pitch to set the tone early for New Palestine.
With the Dragons leading 3-0, Crumlin ripped a single to center field to score three base runners for a commanding 6-0 lead.
One inning later, with two outs, Crumlin would smack a double to center field for her fourth RBI of the game. She also just missed a grand slam in the third inning as the Dragons led 11-1 heading into the fourth frame.
Then Hoyt wanted in on the action.
With two outs in the bottom half of the inning, the third baseman sent a three-run blast over the right-center field fence, her third of the season, for the final 14-3 advantage.
She finished with four RBIs in the game, as well.
Senior Rose Holtrey added a home run for Cathedral, which also finished with seven hits, in the second inning. The Irish pitching staff allowed 10 walks in the game, though.
“I thought they did an outstanding job of being patient and hitting our pitch,” Marcum said.
Hoty finished 2-for-3 at the plate while Lehman was 1-for-2 with two walks and two RBIs.
The Dragons have now yet to lose two games in a row this season. They lost their last outing 5-2 to Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Shelbyville last week and now have three HHC games in a row, including a home game today against Pendleton Heights.
New Palestine is currently tied for second place at 2-1 in conference play.
“Shelbyville played us well, but we just didn’t play our normal game,” Marcum said. “That’s what we talked about the next morning at 5:30 a.m. at practice.”
Cathedral 3, New Palestine 14
CHS (10-9);010;20x;x; – ;3;7;2
NPHS (12-2);812;3xx;x; – ;14;7;0
WP: Abbey White (4-0) LP: Alex Jackson (CHS).
2B: Crumlin (NP). HR: Holtrey (CHS). Hoyt (NP). RBI: Hoyt 4, Barker, Morey 2, Crumlin 4, Lehman 2, Jones (NP). O. Jackson, Lusk (CHS).
NPHS: Crumlin 2-3, four RBIs. Hoyt 2-3, four RBIs. Lehman 1-2, two RBIs.