NEW PALESTINE — Through its first two games, New Palestine’s offense has shown it is in midseason form.
As for the Dragons’ pitching and defense…well, those two areas remain works in progress.
The red and white fell 7-5 to visiting Whiteland Wednesday evening, dropping to 1-1 on the season after downing Southport 8-7 in eight innings Tuesday.
Following a 12-hit performance Tuesday, New Palestine had 10 additional knocks Wednesday – including four of the extra-base variety.
But, the offensive fireworks were overshadowed by the squad’s struggles on the mound and in the field. The Warriors’ go-ahead run in the top of the seventh was set up by the Dragons’ third error of the contest – the team’s sixth fielding miscue in two games. Two other Whiteland runs were set up by NP errors.
“Defense let us down,” said 11th-year Dragons coach Ed Marcum. “Routine plays that we didn’t make ended up being the go-ahead run. Should’ve been the first out of the inning and we end up not making the play. We had several of those throughout the game.”
The two teams, who could meet again in 4A Sectional 13, were scoreless on three combined hits through three innings before the Warriors pushed across three runs in the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded and one out, Ryann Coy drove in the game’s first two runs with a double to left-center.
The next batter, Anna Scott, drilled a two-bagger to dead center to make the score 3-0. Kaylin McMurray relieved NP starter Elisha Barker and induced a flyout to silence the threat.
Adie Lorsung hit a solo home run for the Dragons in the bottom half of the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, the first three Whiteland hitters reached on an infield single, an error and a walk. A fielder’s choice and wild pitch increased the Warriors’ advantage to 5-1.
The home team responded in the fifth when Madison Whitaker, Addi Clouse and Markie Wood reached to begin the inning vs. Whiteland starter Danielle Munn. NP would inch to within 5-4 following a sacrifice fly by Brittany Duncan and a two-run double by Lorsung.
“I was pretty pleased that we didn’t quit. We got down 5-1,” Marcum said. “Whiteland has a good pitcher. She did a nice job and got some pop-ups in key situations. We had some really good at-bats and had some impatient at-bats. Overall, offensively I was pretty pleased.”
After notching three RBI in the opener, Lorsung drove in three more Wednesday. The junior shortstop led the team with 29 RBI in 2013.
“Adie got us going with the big home run and had a huge, huge day,” Marcum said. “We just didn’t have enough people on in front of her in the key situations. She’s been doing well.”
McMurray tied the game in the sixth with a sac fly, but the Dragons couldn’t hold the lead in the seventh.
The first two Warriors got on base via an error and single. Kylie Bryson moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt, then Hannah Upchurch singled in to left field to hand the visitors the lead once again at 6-5. Scott doubled in the game’s last run two batters later.
Barker and McMurray combined to yield nine hits, three walks, two wild pitches and a hit batsman Wednesday. Through two games, the duo has given up 14 runs, though the NP defense hasn’t exactly helped out the team’s pitchers to this point.
Prior to the season, Marcum said McMurray and Barker were “1A and 1B.” McMurray started the opener. When asked if his pitching situation was still based on trial and error, Marcum said, “Yeah, it is.”
The hosts had runners at second and third with two out in the seventh, but couldn’t plate a run.
Whiteland moved to 2-1 on the year, its other victory a 3-0 shutout of Class 4A No. 7 Center Grove (1-2) April 1. Wednesday, Munn threw all seven innings and struck out five, giving the sophomore 20 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched this season. The Warriors welcome Plainfield (1-0) Tuesday.
The Dragons host Warren Central (0-1) today before visiting 4A No. 10 Roncalli (2-0) Monday.
“We’ve got to keep working to get better – and we will. We will. Just disappointing because I think we have some kids pressing right now,” Marcum said. “There were a lot of positives in that game as well. I never like to lose, but we’ll move forward from here and come out against Warren Central and hopefully do a little better job defensively.”
Notes: Whiteland went down in order just twice (first and third innings) Wednesday. … All nine Warriors to bat reached base at least once. … New Palestine first baseman Mary Crumlin dove headfirst on the infield to catch the game’s first out. … Whiteland beat NP 7-3 last year. … The Dragons finished 20-7 in 2013; the Warriors were 8-19. … Whiteland had three errors.
Whiteland 7, New Palestine 5
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
WH (2-1) 000 320 2 — 7 9 3
NP (1-1) 000 131 0 — 5 10 3
WP: Munn (2-1). LP: McMurray (0-1).
WH: Settles 2-2, RBI, BB; Upchurch 2-2, RBI, BB; A. Scott 2-4 2 2B; Munn 7 IP, 10 H, 5 K.
NP: Lorsung 3-4 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI; Duncan 1-4, SAC Fly, RBI; McMurray SAC Fly, RBI.