WATERTOWN — By the time Justine White stepped into the batter’s box in the sixth inning with two outs against ninth-seeded Poland, she had already put together an up-and-down day at the plate. Despite tripling in the third, she had struck out and popped out to shortstop.
Now, in her fourth at-bat Wednesday, the hard-hitting righty could either end the inning or keep No. 8 Immaculate Heart Central’s playoff hopes alive.
“Well I was kind of down but I knew I just had to hit,” White said. “I could not leave Skyler [Barber] on base, I had to get her home, so I just went at.”
As Poland pitcher Keara Blumenstock delivered, White smacked the ball into the left-center field gap, deep enough to score Barber from first and allow White to get to third for her second triple of the game. The hit tied the game at 7-7, but Josie Barton immediately changed that with an RBI triple on the next pitch. The two hits and Barber’s walk sparked a two-out rally where IHC scored six runs to win, 12-7, and advance to the Section 3 Class D quarterfinals.
White, the catcher and leadoff hitter, is one of IHC’s hardest hitters. But what coach Brad Barton credits most is her ability to listen and learn from her mistakes.
“One thing I like about Justine is that she listens to you,” Barton said. “She’s a veteran player and she’ll listen to you, and she knows when she struggles she’s pulling her head and she’s swinging for the fence. The kid has a lot of pop and a lot of power, but one thing is that she overswings. So just constantly reminding her to discipline herself at the plate and wait for her pitch, stay on and stay balanced.”
The Cavaliers (6-6 overall)batted around in the sixth, recording five hits and scored six runs. It took a couple of innings for IHC to get comfortable at the plate, it wasn’t until the third that the Cavaliers picked up their first hit. Initially coach Barton was concerned that his team’s early inning struggles were going to persist, but they quickly disappeared in the third when IHC tacked on two runs.
“I told them to be more disciplined and when you swing, go back through the ball,” Brad Barton said. “We were looping and lunging at the ball, be more patient and wait for your pitch. I think in the beginning we weren’t as selective.”
IHC was down early when Poland (7-9) jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the top of the third. Georgia Barton was on the mound for the Cavaliers and was struggling so coach Barton took a stroll to the mound to talk to his pitcher.
“I just asked her basically, ‘if you’re OK,’ number one, because it looked like she was getting gassed with the heat,” he said. “So I just said, settle down, pitch for strikes and I total the defense to make the plays, which they did.”
A goal of the Cavaliers was to get past the sectionals’ first round. Now that they’ve done that, they’re scheduled to play today at No. 1 LaFargeville.
“I just want to play as much as I can and get as many reps as I can,” Georgia Barton, a senior, said. “Now that we’ve gotten past the first round, we might as well try to keep going.”