To make the playoffs, Special Olympics Indiana softball teams must play at least two games before a certain deadline.
The Jackson County tornadoes decided to go further.
Between August 3 and August 7, they played five games.
While tied in one and unable to record a victory in the others, the Tornadoes fought hard at the fast start to the season.
“The team had its ups and downs this weekend,” said one of the coaches, Matt Nicholson. “The record doesn’t show things like the improvements made on the pitch, the smiles for days from players, fans and coaches, the ‘good job’ for teammates and opponents on a game well done. As a Coach, I see some skills we’ll be working on this week in practice, and I can’t wait to get back on the court on the 20th to see how much the Tornadoes have improved.
The season opener took place on August 3 at Kasting Park in Seymour against the Lawrence County Outlaws, a unified team. The Tornadoes are a traditional Tier 3 team, while the Outlaws have a mix of Special Olympics athletes and Unified Partners.
Lawrence County opened the game with six runs, and Jackson County recovered two late in the first inning when Thomas Emly tripled then scored on a Chaz Rothrock single and Rothrock scored when Josh Beals reached the first base on an error.
The Outlaws then scored seven runs in the second inning and added eight more in the third, all unanswered, for a final score of 21-2. The only other hits in the game for the Tornadoes were a Donald Bennethum single in the second inning and a Beals single in the third.
Last weekend, Jackson County played in back-to-back tournaments.
The first was the Johnson County Tournament at the Grove Lassie League Center in Greenwood, where the Tornadoes were edged out by the Howard County Wildcats 11-9 and found themselves in an 8-8 draw against Warrick County. The games have a time limit of one hour.
Jackson County scored first in both games. Against Howard County, Rothrock started with a single and scored on a two-out single from Tim Ashburn. The Wildcats then scored eight runs late in the first inning, but the Tornadoes tied that in the top of the second.
Bennethum, Rothrock, Todd Smith and Ashburn had singles, Beals doubled and Emly tripled. Emly had three RBIs, Rothrock had two and Ashburn had one. The points were scored by Alysha Sandlin, Bennethum, Derrick Martin, Kayla Kriete, Rothrock, Emly, Beals and Ashburn.
The Tornadoes, however, couldn’t hold the one-point lead, as they allowed three runs late in the third.
Against Warrick County, Jackson County made three runs in the first inning. Leadoff Rothrock again had a hit, this time a double. Emly followed with an RBI single, and Beals and Smith had back-to-back RBI singles.
The Tornadoes then took an 8-0 lead with five more runs early in the second. Rothrock and Beals each had two RBI doubles.
From there, however, Warrick County scored five runs in the bottom of the second and three more in the third to level the score just before the end of the game.
Also on Saturday, Owen Law was the only player from Jackson County to compete in the individual skills competition, which involves running, throwing, lining up and hitting. He won a ribbon for his efforts.
On Sunday, Jackson County entered the Shelby County Tournament for the first time. Both of their games were against higher level teams and the Tornadoes fought back.
Despite losing to the Decatur County Jaguars 7-2 and the Shelby County Reds 13-1, Jackson County’s defense ended the opponent’s offense in three innings.
One of those scoreless innings was Game 1 against Decatur County. In the bottom half of the first inning, the Tornadoes first lit up the scoreboard with Rothrock tripping and then scoring on the Emly field. Beals followed with a single and scored on Smith’s two-out single.
Decatur County then responded with their seven runs in the top of the second inning, and Jackson County could only collect one hit for the rest of the game, a single from Emly to open the bottom of the game. third inning.
In the game against the Reds, Rothrock tripled and then scored on Beals’ single in the top of the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
Shelby County responded with nine runs late in the first inning and their other four runs in the second inning. Rothrock’s single in the third was Jackson County’s only other hit.
He distinguished himself by joining the Jackson County team for the first time this summer.
“We did a good job of catching the ball and hitting the ball,” Rothrock said.
His teammate Bennethum agreed.
“I’ve seen some good plays,” he said. “We had good teamwork. We got along with everyone. We got along with the other teams. We had good games, even though we lost. We will be back, however.
Going forward, both Smith and Emly said the Tornadoes need to listen to their coaches – Nicholson, Jason Kleber, Jim Shepherd and Ashleigh White – and have good teamwork.
“It went well. We just have to work on things if people take a new stance on offense and defense,” Smith said.
Martin also said he enjoyed kicking off the season.
“This weekend the games were good,” he said. “We’ve met people from other teams, and next year we’ll do it again to meet more new people.”
The Tornadoes will be back in action August 20 in Seymour as they host the Monroe County Sluggers for a noon game at the Seymour Noon Lions Club’s 12th Annual Pig in the Park and Family Fun Fair.
Sections are set for August 27 if there are enough teams to compete in the state. The state tournament is scheduled for Sept. 10 in Greenwood.