West Branch pitcher tosses perfect game in 11-0 victory
HOWLAND — Perfection!
This wasn’t the first time West Branch senior Jordan Anderson has kept a team hitless this spring, nor was it her first career perfect game.
Still, there’s something special about being perfect for a day — as Anderson was Wednesday in an 11-0 win at Howland. She had 10 strikeouts in the six-inning victory.
“I really work on all of my pitches to make sure that they’re all on,” said Anderson who tossed a five-inning no-hitter against Salem on April 21. “It doesn’t really matter which one is working best and which one isn’t. I just have to make sure I can use them all, and that’s what happened today.
“Sometimes, you know what these hitters are swinging at, so you know what to throw at them. That did work a lot for me today, knowing what they were swinging at the first time through their at-bats.”
Run support was in no shortage, with juniors Sydney Mercer and Ryley Pittman each blasting solo home runs in the first two innings to give West Branch a 2-0 lead entering the third inning.
The Warriors tallied another run in the third and the fifth. The floodgates opened with a seven-run sixth inning, highlighted by senior catcher Sam Morris’ two-run double. She finished with three RBI.
Morris also has the important task of helping Anderson work through her game, and keeping the good vibes flowing in the Warriors’ dugout.
“I just try to keep a positive attitude and I keep everyone happy, that’s the best thing,” Morris said. “We all do better when we’re happy. It makes or breaks us. I think the mental aspect and the happiness and the positive energy makes or breaks a team.”
Morris also said that confidence is key in hitting for the Warriors.
“Confidence, I think that’s it,” she said. “Once we (get a hit), we know that we can. Everyone from the top to the bottom in the lineup can hit the ball. So once one of us starts it, we all know we can do it.”
West Branch (13-5) left six runners on base, with a majority of them coming early before their massive sixth inning set up the mercy rule.
Once the hitters adjusted to Howland starter Alexia Spangler, it was about driving pitches and building off that contagious momentum for coach Sis Woods and her team. The Warriors recorded 14 hits, with eight players supplying at least one RBI.
Taking an early lead relaxes a team, too.
“I think it does get us loosened up because it takes a little pressure off,” Woods said.
“When you’re ahead, you don’t play as tight and the little mistakes aren’t going to hurt you as often.”
West Branch started the season 4-4, but after readjusting to high school softball after missing a season, Woods thinks that her team is a lot more comfortable. The program has won three straight conference titles.
“We started out a little slow, and we’re starting to play together and put things together,” Woods said. “I think it’s the same as everybody. A year off hurt and we added a lot of new people. When you lose two senior classes at the same time basically, we added a lot of new people in and we’re just starting to jell.”
Junior Eris Dugan belted an RBI double for the Warriors.
Howland fell to 8-11, and coach Nicole Wayt looked for the positives following the loss.
“We gave them the positives of the game,” she said. “We thought that they came out and played really well early. We had one bad inning.
“Until the fifth inning, we were in the game. We have to hit the ball better. You can’t win without hitting the ball, and I think that they’ll regroup, clear their heads, and come out ready to play (the next game).”
Senior Destiny Blake, juniors Skyler Greeneisen and Tori McKay all recorded an RBI for the Warriors, along with Anderson.
Anderson struck out the side to end her perfect game.
“Yeah it definitely was a great way to finish it off,” Anderson said. “It was going through my head a lot, and I was just trying to get out of it honestly.
“After losing last year (due to COVID-19), we just want to come out here and have fun and just play as a team. That’s what we all value the most and that’s what’s going to get us the farthest here.”