MUNSTER | Staring down a week that included games against three of the top teams in the area, Munster softball coach Beth Thornburg just wanted her team to play with a little confidence.
Thornburg got her wish as the Times No. 6 Mustangs made quick work of No. 4 Andrean, getting a grand slam from Emma Hodges and knocking off the 59ers 10-0 in five innings.
Next up for Munster are No. 1 Lake Central and No. 2 Crown Point.
"That was a good team we beat today and now we've got two more tough games to play," Thornburg said. "This game should give us a lot of confidence for the start of the week."
Munster senior pitcher Carly Murphy got the Mustangs off to a strong start by retiring Andrean in order through the first three innings, including six strikeouts the first time through the lineup.
The Mustangs couldn't get a runner past second in the first two innings, but were able to load the bases in the third before Hodges sent a pitch down the left field line that barely stayed fair and just cleared the outfield fence.
"We expect Emma to get a hit for us in that situation," Thornburg said. "She's been hitting the ball well for us so far this year."
Hodges knew that she had to deliver when her teammates got on base and the senior felt right at home in the big moment.
"You'd think that there would be a lot of pressure there, but it's just about having confidence and getting a hit," Hodges said.
Thornburg and Hodges weren't the only Mustangs (3-1) talking about confidence on Tuesday afternoon.
Murphy mentioned the confidence she had in coming off shoulder surgery that caused her to miss the bulk of last season. The senior didn't flinch in her first outing, striking out nine over five innings and allowing one hit.
Sophomore Taylor Kotzo was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs.
"I don't worry about batting ninth," Kotzo said. "It's more about getting in the flow of the game, getting runners on and having the confidence to get the hit and get them in."