Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- One year ago, the annual county softball battle raged a memorable 11 innings before Northview was able to manufacture a 1-0 victory over Clay City.
This time around the Knights weren't going to wait so long to get on the board.
Northview used two first inning doubles and took advantage of an error to score three runs that would hold up in a 4-0 victory over the Eels.
"After waiting until the sixth inning last night to score, we talked about being quicker with our bats," said Northview coach Bethany Jonson.
Before all the fans had settled into their seats, Northview's Lindsay Thomas was hit-by-a-pitch from Eels' hurler Shelby Targett.
Emily Phillips came to the plate with an eye on a sacrifice bunt. Her attempt lifted to Targett's outstretched glove, but trickled out for an error as everyone reached safely.
Erica Conrad followed with a ringing double to left centerfield to score Thomas. Senior shortstop Traci Sanders followed with her own double, which drove home two more runs.
Targett got out of the jam by striking out a pair of batters and Jessica LaTourette grounded out to end the frame.
But the damage was done.
Katie Smith allowed a first inning infield single by Kayla Baumgartner, a pair of second inning walks and two third inning singles, but worked her way out of danger each time.
Afterwards, Clay City coach Roger Rhodes was unhappy with his team's impatience.
"We flat can't hit the ball right now," said Rhodes. "We're not patient at the plate. We're just going up there hacking."
The Eels had a pair of runners on in the second as Chelsea Hane and Stephanie Granger drew walks. Smith however struck out Mardi Steiner and got Tosha Collenbaugh to ground out to end the threat.
Defense played a big role in the Knights' win as well.
Emily Phillips made a nice sliding stop of a sharp grounder to second base by Emily Reed to lead off the third inning. After singles by Angie Camp and Meranda Jackson followed with two outs, the defensive gem proved to have saved a potential rally by the Eels.
Both Sanders and Raven Enders also made sterling defensive plays to aid the Knights' cause.
"We've played two solid defensive games in a row," commented Jones. "Traci (Sanders) came across the middle to make a play. We're starting to come together."
The Eels thwarted another Northview scoring opportunity in the fifth inning after Phillips was hit by Targett and Sanders singled to center. The ball was misplayed for an error that moved the runners into scoring position. Smith drew a walk to load the bases, but Phillips was tagged out attempting to score on a passed ball to end the inning.
The Eels had one more shot in the final inning as Collenbaugh and Baumgartner reached via free passes with two outs.
Phillips again saved any chance at a rally when she snared a liner up the middle by Camp for the final out.
Smith allowed five hits and struck out six batters to score her first win of the season. Targett gave up six hits and struck out six as well, walking just one batter.
The Knights improve to 3-1 overall while Clay City drops to 1-2 overall. Northview faces Shakamak at home on Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. Clay City visits Sullivan on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
At Clay City
2B -- Nv (Conrad, Sanders, Clark), CC (None). SB -- Nv (Sanders), CC (Baumgartner).
|Targett (L, 1-2)||7.0||4||6||1||6|
|Smith (W, 1-0)||7.0||0||5||4||6|
The Shakamak Lakers got a no-hitter from pitcher Heather Gilbert to beat the Eels in a double-conference match-up.
Clay City pitcher Shelby Targett struck out nine batters and allowed only four hits in the game, but still drew the loss.
Targett (L, 1-1) and Camp; Gilbert and Pearson.
2B -- SH (Fougerousse).