PDT Sports Writer
RUBYVILLE — A two-game lead in the conference standings: Check.
Holding the tiebreaker over the biggest threat: Check.
Notre Dame accomplished both tasks in Thursday’s 8-0 SOC I softball win at Clay thanks to six hits and five Panther errors. It was something Titans coach J.D. Whitman wanted his team to have heading into the weekend.
“We’ve got Prom (Friday) and I told them if (they) come out of here with a loss, Prom is not going to be as good as if you will come out with a win,” Whitman said. “They (came) out fired up, they executed, they did everything I told them to do and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Notre Dame took advantage of being the visiting team with a pair of runs to open the game with two errors committed by Clay.
“All of the credit goes to (the Titans), they are without a doubt, the best team in the SOC (I),” Panthers coach Jason Gearheart said. “They would probably compete in the SOC II, they’re a dominant team and we knew that.”
The Titans made their biggest dent in the fourth. After Elayna Born’s single scored Sammie Marting, Brooke Pierron hit a bouncer to Alisha Shepherd, who cut down courtesy runner Ragen Kayser at home.
Catcher Jessica Moore attempted to turn two to end the frame but Pierron’s body acted as a shield from Gabby Hickman and resulted in runs by Jen Arnzen and Born.
“We let a few get away from us when they were on base,” Gearheart said. “But we’re a young team and I expect that.”
Katie Stevenson then laid down a bunt that resulted in another error and plated Pierron. Notre Dame added single runs in the fifth and sixth.
“We did a lot of small ball tonight, we bunted around a little bit and we tried to put pressure on them,” Whitman said. “Everybody knows that we are a power hitting team. They were playing us to the fence.”
The run support was more than enough for Tori Harr, who struck out five and walked five for her 12th win of the season.
“That’s what Tori does, she keeps you off-balance,” Whitman said. “Inside and out, we try not to pitch on the heart of the plate, she tries to hit the black.”
The Titans will host East Monday in the first meeting this season between the two clubs. With the lead in the standings, Whitman hopes complacency does not set in with his team.
“(East is) a young team, we’ve just got to stay focused and keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Whitman said.
The Panthers will host the Carol Vice Classic Saturday. Clay battles Adena in the first game, Warren and Rock Hill face off in the second game with the winners squaring off against each other as well as the losers doing the same.
“That’s going to be a big deal for us,” Gearheart said.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Notre Dame 200 411 0 — 8 6 1
Clay 000 000 0 — 0 4 5
Notre Dame — Stevenson 0-2 (BB, SAC, R), K. Corns 0-3 (SAC, RBI), Phillips 1-4 (2 SB, 2 R), Marting 2-3 (2B, BB, RBI, R), Harr 0-2 (BB), Arnzen 0-3 (BB, R), Born 1-3 (RBI, R), Pierron 1-3 (SB, 2 R).
Clay — Messer 2-3, Shepherd 0-2 (SAC), Whitley 0-2 (SAC), Hickman 0-1 (BB, SAC), Cooper 0-2 (SAC), Gilliland 2-3 (SB).
W — Harr (12-0)
L — Griffith (8-5)
Records — Notre Dame 15-3 (8-0); Clay 9-5 (7-2).