By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – In order for the next game to matter, Bedford North Lawrence had to win the preamble. Zoe Adams made sure.
Adams cracked 3 hits, drove in 3 runs and worked 5 flawless innings in the circle as the Stars crunched Jeffersonville 7-0 on Monday afternoon, setting up a cataclysmic clash with Seymour for the top spot in the Hoosier Hills Conference.
BNL (17-4, 5-1 in the conference) is now in prime position to claim at least a piece of the league championship with a victory over the Owls, the last unbeaten team in the league. The Stars are chasing their first HHC crown since 1998.
Overlooking the struggling Red Devils (8-15, 0-4) would have been a sin, although an understandable one. Adams lit the offense with RBI doubles during her first two plate appearances, and she was lights-out while surrendering only 2 hits during her circle stint.
Her pitching (8-1 now with a sparkling 1.66 ERA) is her calling card. But her bat has been just as potent as her right arm. She raised her batting average to a team-best .500 (up from .355 a year ago), her RBI total to a team-high 21, and now she’s tied for the team lead in doubles (7).
“She keeps her swing simple, she hits the ball where it’s pitched,” BNL coach Brad Gilbert said. “And still hits with power. That’s the thing I’m most proud of with Zoe, she’s turned into a complete hitter.”
Carlee Kern set the tables for Adams to clear. First inning: Kern was hit by a pitch, Adams slashed a double to right. Third inning: Kern singled, Adams ripped a double to center.
“Staying confident is one of the main keys for me, and staying focused,” Adams said. “Also staying calm because it can get hectic and you can get overwhelmed. Doing what you know you can do.”
Leona Morron added a RBI single in the first, Kate Williams whacked a run-scoring double in the fifth, Adams singled in her third run in the sixth, and Sarah Stone stroked a RBI double in the sixth.
Morron worked two hitless innings in relief. Adams was supremely efficient, needing only 42 pitches (with 33 strikes) to sail through her 5 innings.
“That’s what we need every game from here on out – great pitching, pretty good defense, timely hitting,” Gilbert said. “Tomorrow matters, but it doesn’t matter quite as much if we lost tonight. We try to take it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time.”
Well now it does matter. BNL has won only three HHC titles (which used to be decided by a one-week league tournament but is now a round-robin regular-season schedule) in program history.
“Our fate is in our hands,” Gilbert said. “We have to take care of business. It’s not easy. We have to not make the game bigger than it is, but we have to be ready to go.”
“It’s important to make sure we play every game to the best of our ability,” Adams said. “It’s important not to get nervous about it.”