Science and Arts freshman pitcher Emily Cerny said she felt pretty good pitching Monday in her team’s opening game of the 2018 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round.
“Everything was working, so that’s good and it was really easy getting used to the turf today,” Cerny said.
Cerny was in dominant form Monday, a no-hitter as the Science and Arts Drovers beat Oklahoma Wesleyan 3-0 in the late game Monday.
“She did a great job today: 13K’s as a no-hitter for the first round,” Drovers head coach Jadyn Wallis said. “That’s a good day.”
Cerny had 13 strikeouts, no walks and no errors in Monday’s game.
“Emily, she’s just a special pitcher, she really is,” Wallis said. “She’s a special kid all the way around, on the field and in the classroom. She’s a perfectionist, and as a pitcher that’s what it takes to have performances like that.”
In the bottom of the third inning, the Drovers got on the board first. Junior Keeley Kingsly connected and hit the ball short and into the infield, but beat the throw to first. Senior Chloe Clifton later batted her in to score one in the bottom of the third.
After senior Caitlin Hall was thrown out, Cerny drove the ball through the infield on the ground scoring one. In the bottom of the seventh, a passed ball allowed a Drovers runner to score while Cerny was at the plate. She grounded out later in the at-bat, but the run made it 3-0 Drovers.
It wasn’t a perfect performance for the team, despite the score.
“Defensively we weren’t on point like we needed to be, but we overcame,” Wallis said. “That’s always key. Hitting-wise, we made things happen when we needed to.”
In the early game Monday, No. 3 seeded Midland overcame No. 2 seeded Jamestown with some clutch hitting of their own.
The Midland Warriors and Jamestown Jimmies entered the seventh inning of Monday’s game against each other scoreless.
In the top of the seventh, Midland designated player Bobbi Singleton nearly broke the tie herself, hitting a hard shot that bounced just off the wall and stayed in play. Singleton made it to second on the play. Head coach Mike Heard sent in freshman Tessa Kinart to pinch-run for Singleton.
Senior Bailey Hartman then came up and accomplished a perfect sacrifice bunt, getting thrown out for the first out of the inning but advancing Kinart to third.
Sophomore Angela Brazil popped-out for the second out of the inning. Then game sophomore Alexis Oden, who hit a single down the third-base line past Kinart, who scored on the play for the game’s only run.
“I believed in the process that we were kinda working with,” Oden said afterward. “The fifth inning, coach told us to kind of get our heads in the game and that’s what we started doing and trusting the process really.”
The Warriors played as the road team, so they still had to stop the Jimmies from scoring in the bottom of the inning.
“It felt great but I knew we had to come back out on defense and finish the game before we could celebrate,” Oden said.
The game was a pitching-duel, with the two pitchers combining for a total of just six hits allowed while striking out a combined 17 batters.
Close battles are nothing new for the Warriors, Heard said.
“We’ve had a lot of those the last three weeks of the season,” Heard said.
Junior pitcher Jaylee Hinrichs pitched all seven innings, allowing just one hit and walking no one.
“Jaylee just keeps us in games, and she can do that,” Heard said.
The Warriors did start getting their bats under them as the game progressed, despite struggling early. Oden and Heard both said they saw their team adapting.
“I thought about the fifth inning or so we kind of started doing some different things offensively that helped us a little bit, bought into our plan and our approach a little more and just found a way there at the end to get it done,” he said.
Midland advances to take on Science and Arts at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Jamestown takes on Oklahoma Wesleyan at 1 p.m.
The loser of the first game will take on the winner of the second at 3 p.m.