In the seventh inning of a one-run game, senior pitcher Sidney Dey didn’t feel she was hitting her spots as well as she would have liked.
“I was especially nervous because my (Hutch) coaches were here,” Dey said.
But after Buhler got two baserunners with one out in the seventh, Dey came through with three straight strikeouts to end the Crusaders’ threat as the Orioles held on for a 2-1 win in the opener of Monday’s home doubleheader.
Freshman pitcher Brooke Eberhardt then went into lockdown mode in Game 2. She pitched a no-hitter and the Orioles’ offense rocked Buhler for a 10-0 run-rule win to complete the sweep.
In both games, it was the defense that kept the Orioles on top.
“I was really happy with the way the defense played. They definitely had my back,”?Dey said.
Senior Christina Downs made a spectacular play at shortstop in Game 1. She dove after a ball that was popped up over the dirt of the infield and fully stretched to get her glove underneath the ball right before it hit the ground. ?That’s when she hit the ground instead.
“I didn’t even plan on diving. It just kind of happened...I”m not a good diver. It hurt,” Downs said with a laugh.
The play was one of several key defensive stops. Katy Nordman fielded a ball lined right to her in a split second at third base. Kalie Robinson covered a lot of ground in centerfield. Buhler had a scoring chance at third base when Robinson caught a fly ball and held the runner.
“We didn’t hit very well, so without our defense, we probably would’ve lost that game,”?Downs said. “I think we’re getting more used to each other. Our defense seems to be doing all right.”
Destiny Williams, who played highly motivated, started the game with a bang. She knew that Buhler ace McKenzie King likes to throw first-pitch strikes, so she hammered the first pitch she saw to centerfield for a lead-off single in the first inning.
“First hit, I?was ready to get on so someone could hit me in,” Williams said. “We’ve been practicing that a lot.”
Williams stole second with ease, then got to third on a bunt by Courtney Phillips. With Downs up, Williams scored on a wild pitch for a quick 1-0 lead.
The run proved critical as the game wore on. Both Dey and King, who will be teammates next season at Hutchinson Community College, were keeping batters off base most of the day. King retired the side the next two innings and got out of trouble when the Orioles threatened.
“Defense is why we won. We sure didn’t take opportunities to score,” coach Ray Aguirre said. “I think we left five on base in scoring position.”
“She’s a good pitcher. We just had to stay off her rise ball. We have to be more disciplined at the plate,” Williams said.
Dey shook off a tough start after Buhler started the game with a single and a double. Dey got nine straight outs after that. Buhler got on the scoreboard with a solo home run to tie the game 1-1 at the start of the fourth.
Jacie Gorges led off the Orioles’ fifth with a double. The next at-bat, Buhler made a throwing error on a bunt by Megan Burkett, which allowed Gorges to score to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
In the Crusaders’ seventh, Buhler got a runner on by the Orioles’ only misplay on defense. A?single got runners on first and second with no outs, but Dey threw three strikeouts to close it out.
Dey finished with six strikeouts and allowed five hits, one run and no walks.
The Orioles’ defense played well enough behind Eberhardt in Game 2 to earn a no-no from the freshman. Eberhardt threw one strikeout and allowed only one baserunner via a walk. Her pitch count through the five innings was 50.
The Orioles will prepare for a crucial doubleheader Thursday at home when they host the Mulvane Wildcats, a tilt that could decide the league title.
Becker pitches perfect game, JV sweeps Crusaders
Augusta freshman Nicole Becker pitched the perfect game by not allowing a single baserunner during the Orioles’ 10-0 romp of Buhler Monday in the first game of their home doubleheader.
Becker finished with four strikeouts and only had eight pitches for balls. Kylie Wesbrooks and Carly Sears hit well to lead the offense.
In Game 2, the Orioles won 15-5