Rock Bridge softball routs Battle in first-ever meeting

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | 10:11 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge and Battle softball teams competed for the first time Tuesday night, resulting in an 11-0 Bruin victory in five innings.

The crosstown matchup was the first in any sport between the two schools in Battle's inaugural year. Battle head coach Joe Henderson and assistant coach Steve Shufelberger both previously coached at Rock Bridge.

"When Joe (Henderson) came up to the plate, he gave us all hugs, said 'Hi,' acted like normal Joe," said Rock Bridge senior shortstop Shelbie Atwell. "We just played it like any other game. We heard Joe's voice in the background, but it was still just another game."

Atwell is one of nine seniors on the Rock Bridge roster that played for Shufelberger as an assistant coach for one year of high school and attended camps led by Henderson.

Janel Twehous took over the Rock Bridge team in 2010 and has coached the senior class through its high school career. After a win on the road Monday, Twehous hoped her team would make improvements for the game against Battle.

"I wanted them to focus, make adjustments at the plate and come out and attack the ball," Twehous said.  "Yesterday ... we didn't start making adjustments until the fifth or sixth inning, and I didn't want to do that."

Despite the loss, Henderson believes his team can take positives from the game.

"We have been going since last Tuesday, but they played well," Henderson said. "But when you get six walks and two hit batters in a row, you are not going to survive that. They put up a lot of ones and a zero, but we are tired."

Battle freshman Katie Carey, Tuesday's starting pitcher, has been recovering from a back injury that occurred Sept. 4 while playing against Fr. Tolton, and Tuesday was her first time starting in the circle since the injury.

"She threw her first two innings good," Henderson said.  "It was a coaching mistake; I should have pulled her quicker. She's hurt right now. I should have pulled her after the second inning, and I didn't do it, so that's on me."

Henderson knows his team could see Rock Bridge again in district play and knows what he wants to improve before then.

"Bunt defense and throw strikes," Henderson said. "When we were throwing strikes, they didn't overhit the ball, a lot of singles. Once you get down like that, it is tough to make any adjustments."

Although this is the first competition between the two teams, talk of a future rivalry has already come up.

"As time progresses and goes by, of course, I'm sure there can be and will be (a rivalry)," Twehous said. "It's about athletes playing in the community, playing for the same thing. There is always that possibility. You all want to win."

For now, however, the Hickman-Rock Bridge rivalry still takes precedence over the newcomers at Battle.

"Our coach always tells us that we need to play all teams the same," Atwell said. "We need to play them like any other rival."

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