IR softball led by one-two punch of O’Shields and Alley

DAGSBORO – For the most part, softball squads tend to look to one pitcher to toss the bulk of the team’s innings and often rely on them to go the distance in the pitcher’s circle.

But Indian River head coach Erika Murphy likes to take a different approach to her pitching situation.

Rather than leaning on just one girl in the pitcher’s circle, coach Murphy has two strong pitchers and likes that she’s able to have more of a pitching “staff.”

Junior Abigail O’Shields has started the bulk of the 10-4 Indian River Indians’ games this season, with freshman Isabell “Izzy” Alley stepping in as a reliever when needed.

Third baseman Braydee Whitman (5) runs over to high-five pitcher Izzy Alley (14) after Indian River recorded an out against Cape Henlopen Thursday, April 26 (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

“We’ve pitched two for a while now and we’ve seen a lot of success with it,” coach Murphy said. “Granted, failures are going to come as well. But it is what it is and we’re lucky enough to have a pitching staff where we’re not relying on just one person and I think that in the long run that could benefit us.”

In all but a couple of IR’s 14 games this season, both girls have seen game-action in the pitcher’s circle.

Izzy most recently pitched nearly a full game out of relief in IR’s 9-6 win over Cape Henlopen at home Thursday, April 26. The three-run win marked IR’s 10th win of the season with just four regular season games remaining and snapped a two-game skid for the Lady Indians.

“That was a great team win today. We were coming off two losses, some rough games that we played, and they really came together as a team and that made the difference in the win today,” coach Murphy said.

After Abby ran into some early trouble in the first inning, Izzy stepped in and pitched seven shutout innings while surrendering just six hits and striking out a pair of Cape batters.

This season, O’Shields has taken Izzy under her wing and helped her adjust to the high school level.

“She’s really supported me through everything,” she said of O’Shields following her seven-inning relief outing. “She understands when I have to go in and close the game, she believes in me and she’s just really been a good pitching influence. I’m learning pitching style, counts and what she does [in the pitcher’s circle].”

“Abby is a junior and has been the starter for a while and Izzy is really learning the ways that Abby is on the mound, about pitch counts and she’s just really learning a lot from her. So, Abby’s really done her job in that way,” coach Murphy said of the pitching duo.

The Lady Indians’ bats also showed up to play against Cape, as the batting lineup produced its nine runs on 12 hits.

Indian River freshman Brandi Mitchell slides safely into second base after beating the throw from the outfield (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Seniors Julia Bomhardt, Braydee Whitman and Damya Williams and junior Grace Snyder each had two hit games. Bomhardt, Whitman and freshman Kayler Townsend each drove in a pair of runs.

“I just know I have to go in and do my job and I know my team is going to back me up so we’re going to just go out and get it done,” Izzy said.

With just four games remaining on the schedule, the 10-win Lady Indians are in good position in one of the toughest conferences in the state of Delaware.

“At 10-4, honestly all we’re looking at is one game at a time and hopefully our record will get us into the playoffs,” coach Murphy claimed. “Whatever happens in the Henlopen happens, our conference is the toughest in the state so that’s going to help prepare us for what’s yet to come. We’re just really proud of them today for getting one more win today.”

Next for IR is a pair of road games against Henlopen South opponents Laurel (5-7) Thursday, May 3 and Milford (4-7) Tuesday, May 8.

The contest against Milford is a rematch of last year’s DIAA state semifinal game. The Indians will look to avenge its 18-5 loss to the eventual state champions.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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