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Being without six starters (chorus trip and personal reasons) and opposing a pitcher that had tossed a no-hitter in her last start was not an enviable predicament for the Hunt High varsity softball team on a chilly Thursday evening.
The Lady Warriors did manage three hits, but Southern Nash senior right-hander Carrigan Ewers pitched her third consecutive 3-A Big East Conference shutout and extended her string of scoreless innings to 24 in the visiting Ladybirds’ 9-0 triumph.
Ewers did not walk a batter and was backed by an errorless defense in registering her 13th win against four losses. Southern Nash’s offense tagged two Hunt pitchers for 12 hits and seven Hunt errors contributed to six unearned runs.
Southern Nash, which entered tied for the conference lead, climbed to 6-1 in the Big East and to 16-4 overall with its 10th consecutive win. Nonetheless, the Ladybirds dropped to second place by a half-game against a Fike team (7-1) that defeated Rocky Mount in a doubleheader Thursday.
The Lady Warriors, scoreless in their last 14 innings, fell to 5-3 in the league and to 8-9 in all games.
“In softball, defense and pitching travels,” commented Southern Nash head coach Scott Collie. “We struggled a little bit swinging the bats, but Carrigan is really in a groove. She got ahead of hitters and was able to move the ball from one side of the plate to the other. And we played really well defensively.”
Ewers explained she relied a lot of her screwball, her pitch with the most velocity.
“I did good,” she assessed. “It was not my best and not my worst. There were a lot of plays where the defense saved my butt. That’s what I expect every time.”
Added sophomore catcher Elisabeth Collie: “Something clicked in last week’s game against Franklinton. She’s throwing awesome.”
Collie explained that Ewers, after a rough start against Franklinton, learned to stop worrying about how hard she threw her pitches and learned to trust her defense.
“She’s in an unbelievable groove,” noted Coach Collie.
Observed first-year Hunt head coach Miguel Hall of Ewers: “She throws with power and is command of home plate. If you don’t come out with authority, she’s going to take it away from you.”
Sophomore shortstop Bri Tucker laced a double and single for Hunt, while junior third baseman Allyson Matthews singled. During one stretch, Ewers retired 10 consecutive batters and 14 of the last 15.
In the sixth, the speedy Tucker singled with one out and stole second base. However, she was thrown out by Elisabeth Collie in attempting to steal third.
“We were just trying to get a run,” Hall said.
Starting junior Hunt pitcher Brittany Glover, not overpowering, had success mixing her pitches, but her defense was porous. Southern Nash scored in every inning but the second and seventh.
Freshman right fielder Alissa Bailey, Collie, senior left fielder Lauren Fassnacht and senior center fielder Leanna Ruffin each rapped two hits. Fassnacht drove in two runs and doubled along with Alissa Bailey, Ewers, senior Emory New and pinch hitter Jakiya Thorne, a senior.
Hunt’s Hall insisted being without six starters was no excuse, saying: “It’s the next girl up. Come on, you’ve got a job to do out there. We brought up six girls (from the junior varsity) and, without the errors, we did pretty good.
“(Southern Nash) is a good team — a very sound team.”
Ewers and Elisabeth Collie said they were unaware Hunt was without six starters.
“But we just came out here and played our game,” Ewers reasoned. “We’re beginning to play selfless and more for each other. As long as we play our game, we can pull it through.”
Score by innings:
WP-Carrigan Ewers (13-4) 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO. LP-Brittany Glover 5 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Southern Nash: Alissa Bailey 2-4, 2B, RBI; Elisabeth Collie 2-4, 2 R; Lauren Fassnacht 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Leanna Ruffin 2-3, RBI; Hunt: Bri Tucker 2-3, 2B, SB; Allyson Matthews 1-3.