By Brad Morris
Sadie Binkley entered her freshman season as a heralded pitcher with her background of playing for the well-respected Beverly Bandits travel softball program and being a highly ranked right-hander by websites, such as Extra Innings Softball.
Binkley’s debut campaign for the Logan Elm Braves has not been without challenges. Pitching deeper into games than she normally does during travel ball and often facing opponents who are up to three years older and more experienced than she is, Binkley has endured experiences she has learned from to excel in other games.
And that was the case on Wednesday for Binkley, who threw her first no-hitter in leading the Braves to a 10-0 Division II Southeast District sectional final win over visiting Vinton County in six innings.
Binkley was coming off one of her toughest high school starts on Monday, surrendering nine hits and eight earned runs in a loss to Bloom-Carroll.
She had no problem two nights later against the Vikings, walking a batter, hitting another and striking out 12 in a 92-pitch outing, 57 of which were strikes.
“I didn’t have a good game on Monday against Bloom-Carroll, so I knew I had to bounce back and what better time to do that then during the tournament,” Binkley said. “Our defense was so awesome, everyone contributed at the plate, and we played great as a team to win the game.
“I attacked the zone and my curve was complimenting my rise ball so much better tonight against Vinton County.”
Binkley will enter district tournament competition with a 10-6 record on the season with a 2.13 ERA. In 108.1 innings pitched, she had allowed 85 hits, issued 32 walks and struck out 153 batters.
Logan Elm coach Jeri Hartley discussed the journey Binkley has been on this season and how she has learned from adversity to excel like she did in a sectional final against Vinton County.
“Some people had unrealistic expectations for Sadie entering the season. She plays very good travel ball and she is a very talented pitcher, but at the same time she is making a huge jump to varsity softball, having to throw a lot more pitches and most kids she is throwing against are older and more experienced than she is,” she said. “There have been times where Sadie has been hit around some, like against Bloom-Carroll the other night, and that’s going to happen with the quality of softball that’s played in our league.
“What stands out to be about Sadie is how she’s refocused after going through that adversity, how she’s learned from it and how she responds. She was just dominant tonight, hitting corners, throwing to different plains and she got stronger as the game went, which is something that was very impressive. Sadie’s future is incredibly bright with the type of player and leader she is, along with how hard she works.”
Lynsay VanHoose gave Binkley a 1-0 lead when she lined a 3-2 offering over the left field fence in the first inning.
“Lynsay is our catalyst and she is the type of player who can make things happen and gets us going as a team,” Hartley praised. “Lynsay was in a little bit of a slump until she had a big hit a couple of weeks ago against Circleville and that got her going again. She’s been on a tear since then.”
Logan Elm expanded its lead to 3-0 in the third.
Binkley worked a four-pitch walk, advanced to third when VanHoose lined a double to left and scored when Meredith Jarvis lined a two-run single to left that also brought around VanHoose.
The Braves doubled their advantage in the fourth.
Tia Fowler singled behind the first baseman and scored two outs later on a single to right off the bat of Binkley.
After VanHoose reached on a throwing error by the third baseman, Jarvis lined a 1-0 pitch to right to drive in both Kaylie Wilson and VanHoose.
“Meredith came through with a couple of really big hits that allowed us to extend our lead and feel pretty good,” Hartley said. “She’s our only senior, one of our leaders and everyone wanted to win so bad for Meredith and she wanted to go out with a win in our last game at Logan Elm.”
The Braves (14-9) went on to score two more runs in the fifth and completed the run-rule win with two more in the sixth against the Vikings (10-9)
Tia Fowler turned in a perfect ledger going 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored, VanHoose was 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored, Binkley helped her own cause by going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and scored, Jarvis was 2-for-4 and drove in four runs and Jacie Clifton added a 2-for-3 evening.
“Tia really had a nice game out of the seven hole in our lineup,” Hartley said. “Getting production from different parts of your lineup is always big, especially during tournament time.”
The Braves advance to a district semifinal on Monday against top-ranked Athens (23-0) at Ohio University. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.