After being hurt Monday, pitcher Sarah Knill bounced back with a gem against Struthers.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUBBARD -- Although it's unlikely that Webster's Dictionary plans to add photos next to its definition of the term "gutsy performer" soon, if the plans are in works, Sarah Knill is a good candidate for the illustration.
In a regular-season softball game Monday, Knill was struck in her head by a thrown ball which caused her to go for X-rays and miss part of a day of school Tuesday.
Later in the afternoon, Knill threw a one-hitter as Poland blanked Struthers, 4-0, in a Division II district semifinal at Hubbard High School.
"She took a ball right to the face," Poland coach Reid Lamport said. "Her parents took her for X-rays last night. Everything was negative.
"For her to come back and pitch that kind of game, it was good. We got the kind of game out of her we needed."
Next rival: Today, Poland (19-7) will take on Tallmadge (22-4) at 4:30 p.m. at Hubbard High for the district final.
"It hit me square in the face," Knill said of the errant throw. "I had a little nausea today. I left school [and] got some rest and I came back and I was all right."
Knill (16-4) threw a perfect game for five full innings, finally yielded a walk with one out in the sixth, and then gave up a single with one away in the seventh.
It was the second time this year that the junior took a no-hitter into the seventh, and then allowed a single to spoil the masterpiece.
"We hit the ball tonight," Struthers coach Tom Krestel said. "We just couldn't get any to drop in. She pitched a great game, there's no doubt about it."
The Wildcats fell to 16-7 and lost two of three games with Poland this spring.
Kimmel helps: Knill wasn't a one-player team, though. The Bulldogs rapped out 13 hits, led by Heidi Kimmel with a single, double and triple.
Four players scored runs in four separate innings, four Bulldogs had RBIs, and seven Poland batters had at least one base hit.
No great pitching performance is without top defensive plays, either. In the fourth inning second baseman Jessica Lamport went far into shallow right field to steal a base hit away from a Wildcat.
One out later, Poland catcher Suzanne Olesko made a nice play on a ball hit in front of the plate.
"We just couldn't drop it in anywhere," Krestel said. "We made a couple of mistakes but nothing that was going to keep us from winning this game. We were going to lose this game because of the way she pitched."
Reinforcement: Emily Patton had a triple and a single while Olesko, Knill and Joe Toppi each had two hits for the Bulldogs.
Kimmel's RBI double down right field line scored the first run of the game, after Patton had a triple in the first inning.
"In the first inning, I was trying to move the runner," Kimmel said. "I knew I had to pull the ball."