May 15—Independence's schedule has been like a roller coaster.
It started off easier before a stretch against several of the state's elite softball teams.
It's back on the downswing now, but only briefly.
The Lady Patriots capped a three-game stretch against younger teams in Beckley, PikeView and Liberty, defeating the latter 24-0 in three innings Friday evening in Glen Daniel.
The 24 runs tie Indy's season-high in runs scored, a total the Lady Patriots reached on Wednesday in a win against PikeView.
"We had kind of put ourself in a position after 2019," Indy head coach Ken Adkins said. "We played a pretty difficult schedule and before this season started I had to decide if I wanted to continue with that because I could take some beatings in this deal. But that's benefitted us because we've seen the best pitching and played tight games. When they got opportunities where pitchers are hittable, they adjust well. It's not easy to face 65 mph and then come back down here and face under 50 mph. They're adjusting well to the different speeds."
Adkins was right as his team wasted little time adjusting to Liberty.
After managing just one run in the first inning the Lady Patriots erupted in the second.
Destiny Blankenship opened the frame with a leadoff triple, scoring when Chloe Hart followed up with her first of four triples on the day.
The cascade continued as five batters later, Kendall Martin cleared the bases with yet another triple, making it a 6-0 game. By the time the dust settled the Lady Patriots held a 10-0 advantage after two innings.
On the other side the Lady Raiders weren't nearly as fortunate. Indy sophomore Delaney Buckland stifled the Liberty offense, allowing just one hit while striking out eight.
Already in run rule territory, Indy continued to tee off in the third inning, adding 14 runs as the Lady Patriots sent 18 batters to the plate. Seven different players collected a hit for the visitors, but standing out amongst the bunch was Hart who went 4-4 at the plate, crushing four triples and driving in two runs.
"She's one that feasts on younger pitching," Adkins said of Hart. "When she gets kids that just throw it in there she can really smack it. And right before this she had a seven-game hit streak that started against Nitro and Herbert Hoover. She started hitting the ball down there. She's gotten progressively better and we thought she'd be a good hitter for us. And she's struggled a little bit early because of the really good pitching we face, but I think she's had to adjust to that. So it seems like now she's adjusted and she's playing well."
Indy's roller coaster of a schedule will hit another high Saturday when it hosts Winfield, one of the top teams in Class AA that's lost just one game this season.
"The way our schedule is, we wanted to test ourselves," Adkins said. "We got to see some really good team early, but we wanted some good games on the back end to see where we stood come tournament time. We've got Winfield tomorrow and S. Albans to end the season. We want to be ready."
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