Birth­day bash: Camp­bell leads Wild­cats to vic­tory

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gilles

It was a very happy birth­day in­deed for Key­stone pitcher Sydney Camp­bell on May 17.

Camp­bell came within two strikes of throw­ing a no-hit­ter, set­tling for a one-hit shutout in­stead. And, af­ter what looked like a pitcher’s duel for four in­nings with Fire­lands’ Ash­ley Strauss, the Wild­cats’ of­fense erupted for five runs in the fi­nal two in­nings.

The of­fense, led by Mar­lie Mc­Nulty’s 4-for-4 day with a solo home run (her sev­enth), did its part to lift Key­stone to a 5-0 win over Pa­triot Ath­letic Con­fer­ence ri­val Fire­lands in a Divi­sion II dis­trict semi­fi­nal game at LaGrange Com­mu­nity Park. The Wild­cats (29-0) will meet Holy Name for the dis­trict cham­pi­onship back at Com­mu­nity Park at 5 p.m. May 18.

“I was re­ally fo­cused on hit­ting the out­side cor­ner and get­ting up in the count and go­ing in on them with my screw­ball,” said Camp­bell, who was ser­e­naded the birth­day song by her team­mates af­ter the game. “I wanted to throw them off bal­ance with my change-up a lit­tle bit. I wanted to paint the cor­ners and hope to get the (strike) call.

“It would have been cool to throw the no-hit­ter, but I’m def­i­nitely happy with how the game went. All I worry about is throw­ing strikes and if they hit it, I’m con­fi­dent that my de­fense will make a play and get my back. I don’t re­ally get too wor­ried if they hit be­cause I know how good they are be­hind me.”

Camp­bell only al­lowed two baserun­ners and struck out 12 in seven in­nings. Both baserun­ners where her pitch­ing coun­ter­part Strauss, who reached on an er­ror by the short­stop to lead off the fifth and a twoout liner up the mid­dle in the sev­enth that just eluded Key­stone’s sec­ond base­man.

Of the 11 balls put in play by the Fal­cons (13-11), nine were turned into outs by the Wild­cats’ de­fense.

“Sydney’s been Sydney,” Key­stone head coach Jim Pi­azza said. “She’s the rock of our de­fense. Her main job is to trust our de­fense, and I thought she threw re­ally well. She kept them off bal­anced as much as pos­si­ble. I don’t know how many balls they put in play, but our de­fense made all the plays they needed to make.”

In the mean­time, Strauss – fresh off a per­fect game

May 16 – was match­ing Camp­bell zero for zero through four in­nings.

Strauss was threat­ened in the fourth by a lead­off dou­ble from Au­tumn Acord – who went 3-for-4 with 3 dou­bles – an in­ten­tional walk to Madi Nunez and a sac­ri­fice bunt from Brooke Pi­azza. But she coaxed a foul out on a bunt at­tempt by Shelby For­tune and struck out Emma Miller on three pitches to keep things score­less.

In the fifth, with two outs and run­ners on sec­ond and third, the Wild­cats fi­nally de­liv­ered.

Acord drilled the first pitch she saw into the right­cen­ter field gap for a tworun

dou­ble, putting Key­stone ahead, 2-0. Key­stone loaded the bases on backto-back walks, but couldn’t add to the to­tal.

“You’ve got to give Ash­ley Strauss a lot of credit for that,” Pi­azza said. “She did a nice job of mix­ing up her pitches well. We were try­ing to get a pat­tern and we weren’t able to pick one up right away. But the kids started get­ting dis­ci­plined as far as wait­ing for their pitch in­stead of swing­ing at her pitch, and I think that was the big difference.

“Au­tumn did a great job of be­ing the fin­isher for us. We moved her back in the box in her first at­bat be­cause I didn’t trust (Strauss’) rise ball and she didn’t feel com­fort­able. So I told to go back to mov­ing up in the box, and sure enough, she came through with three straight dou­bles. She made a great ad­just­ment.”

Camp­bell said the runs re­lieved a lot of pres­sure on her.

“I wasn’t too wor­ried go­ing into the game and I wasn’t wor­ried even though it was 0-0,” she said. “I knew our of­fense was go­ing to have our back. Once we got that lead, it def­i­nitely took some pres­sure off me and I think it took pres­sure off of ev­ery­one.”

Key­stone added an in­sur­ance run in the sixth when Ali Pyles scored on a passed ball and a throw­ing er­ror by the Fal­con catcher. But that set the stage for Mc­Nulty to put the cherry on top.

Mc­Nulty, who scored her team’s sec­ond run fol­low­ing a one-out dou­ble in the fifth, drilled a 2-1 pitch well over the right-cen­ter field fence that hit a parked car deep in the park­ing lot. The blast put Key­stone ahead, 4-0.

“Our coaches al­ways tell us you’re only as good as your next game, and I just wanted to flush the pre­vi­ous two games and fo­cus on this one,” Mc­Nulty said. “I knew Fire­lands wanted to beat us and they had a lot en­ergy from the start and we were kind of flat.

“Right be­fore the fourth in our hud­dle, I re­minded my team­mates of one of our say­ings – pres­sure is a priv­i­lege. We needed to stop play­ing like we’re scared and have fun and do what we do. I think that started ev­ery­thing go­ing. I just wanted to be there for my team­mates and get on base be­cause when­ever I get on base, good things tend to hap­pen.”

Acord added an­other RBI dou­ble two bat­ters later to make it a 5-0 lead – a lead that proved to be untouchable.

The last two in­nings tar­nished what had been a solid out­ing by Strauss, who fin­ished with 10 hits, five runs (all earned), three walks and three strike­outs in six in­nings.

“Ash threw a great game,” Fire­lands coach Sa­man­tha Dostall said. “She’s a gamer and she pitched very well. She wanted to win and un­for­tu­nately we fell short on the of­fen­sive side, but she pitched her butt off to­day. Her record doesn’t do her much jus­tice.

“I saw a lot of im­prove­ment out of my girls – they came ready to play. They were pumped up and they wanted to com­pete, and they did. From the start of the sea­son until now, they showed a lot of im­prove­ment and I’m very proud of them.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.