Mikah Berger's pitching paved the way to Western Reserve's win over Springfield.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Pitcher Mikah Berger of the Western Reserve High softball team got the drop on the Springfield Local batters, and by the time the Tigers figured how to escape, it was too late.
Berger pitched a one-hitter to best Maggie Marsh with a two-hitter in a pitcher's duel, as Western Reserve scored a run on a fielder's choice in the first inning to post a 1-0 win over Springfield in an Inter-County League game Friday at the Tigers' field.
"She was throwing a nice drop ball and we didn't adjust to it until late in the game. We were hitting nice shots, but they were fielding them," said Springfield (4-3, 1-1) coach Terry Dobson.
Early run: The Blue Devils, who remained undefeated (4-0, 3-0), got what turned out to be the deciding run after only three batters went to the plate.
Leadoff-batter Katie Harmon reached first on an error, stole second base, went to third on Deanna Zamudio's groundout, and then beat the throw home on Quinn McCammon's grounder.
Then Berger held the Tigers' batters in check the rest of the way, except for Marsh's line-drive double to left in the fourth inning. Marsh advanced to third on Renee Warren's groundout, but then was stranded there.
Berger in form: Coach Joe Serensky of Western Reserve said Berger, who registered eight strikeouts, had a good mix of pitches.
"She was throwing a lot of fastballs and good change-ups," said Serensky.
The coach also said Berger has a good catcher in McCammon.
"Our freshman catcher, McCammon, does an excellent job calling the [pitches and] game, and keeps the infield on their toes," said Serensky, also believing the umpire was a factor in Berger's success.
"He was giving the pitchers a nice and wide strike zone and we took advantage of that," said Serensky, who is in his second season.
Locked in no-hitter: Berger and Marsh both were locked in a no-hitter until Western Reserve's Kristen Kurth slammed a single in the fourth inning to spoil Marsh's bid for a gem. Tiffany Shugart got the Blue Devils' other hit with a single in the sixth inning.
Serensky said Harmon's baserunning was key to scoring in the first.
"It was a matter of us getting the bat on the ball and manufacturing a run [but thanks to] good baserunning from Harmon," said Serensky, noting his team also played a close game in its last outing.
"The last game we only scored one run in 14 innings."
Dobson said Springfield's poor defensive play in the first inning has negatively affected the season so far.
"It's been our downfall all season," he said of the first-inning letdowns, noting that "all three losses [had errors] in the first inning that cost us the game."