Noise-free Stars suffer quiet losses in BNL Invitational

BNL catcher Ava Ratliff eyes a runner after recording a force out at home plate during Saturday’s clash with 4A No.9 Avon. The Stars suffered two losses during the BNL Invitational.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – The sound of offensive silence is a new phenomenon for Bedford North Lawrence. After multiple seasons of a heavy bass beat with booming bats, the drums were muffled during two soft, noise-free losses in the BNL Invitational. BNL was a quiet place, and it was disconcerting.

The Stars made their home debut on Saturday, suffering setbacks to Class A No.5 Clay City (6-1) and 4A No.9 Avon (13-0 in five innings). BNL (1-2) managed only six hits and one run during the split doubleheader, quite the contrast of the last three explosive, record-setting seasons. There’s no reason to panic, since the three-game sample size is not applicable to any trend yet.

“I know everyone is disappointed in scoring one run in two games,” BNL coach Brad Gilbert said. “That’s not something I thought would happen. We’re still learning.

“I feel like we’re close. I think it will bust loose. The last couple of years (BNL averaged 8.8 runs per game in 2023, 7.5 in 2022 and 8.3 in 2021) we had enough horses that, once one or two got going, everyone else caught fire. That’s what will happen. It is a little concerning, but I’m not freaking out. We have some great hitters on this team.”

Clay City 6, BNL 1: In the opener, Clay City hurler Lizzy Sinders scattered four hits (all doubles) and struck out 12 as the Eels (4-0) remained unbeaten.

Clay City scored twice in the third, twice in the fifth and twice in the seventh. Hannah Harris and Faith Mitchell had two hits each, while Lexi Thompson connected for a solo home run and scored three times.

Avon’s Hannah Sutton, who belted a grand slam against the Stars, celebrates at third base.

In the third, Thompson launched her homer, followed by back-to-back doubles by Harris and Mitchell. In the fifth, the Eels took advantage of two walks (of the seven BNL issued) and a Mitchell double. In the seventh, Harris doubled in a run, and the final run scored on a bases-loaded error.

The Stars scored in the bottom of the seventh on doubles by Anna Williams and Macee Nicholson.

Avon 13, BNL 0: The Orioles (4-1) erupted for five runs in the first and six more in the third to eventually trigger the mercy rule. Avon cracked two home runs (Madeline Herman and Hannah Sutton, who ripped a grand slam in the third) and totaled 12 hits.

BNL’s only hits came from Kendall Graves (a sharp triple to the left-field corner in the first) and Danielle Stegeman (a lead-off single to center in the fifth).

“We want to play tough competition and get better,” Gilbert said. “It won’t do us any good to play teams that are weak and we can beat. It’s easy to be excited when you’re winning. When things aren’t going our way, we have to figure out a way to pump each other up and stay in it.”

In the other games of the four-team format, Clay City stopped Loogootee 11-6, while Avon conquered Loogootee 11-1 in five innings.

BNL will visit Brownstown, the first of a seven-game road trip during the coming week, on Monday.

BNL’s Danielle Stegeman prepares to snag a ground ball at third base.