Friday, March 7, 2014
WINSLOW -- Gardiner hasn't won any softball games by the mercy rule this season, but that's about the only thing the Tigers haven't done this season. The Tigers remained unbeaten Wednesday, showcasing their speed, aggressiveness, pitching and defense.
Backed by that defense, Brittany Rollins came within one out of a no-hitter. She settled for a one-hitter as Gardiner (8-0) defeated the Black Raiders, 3-1.
Winslow dropped to 6-3. Two of those losses have been to Gardiner, by a total of three runs.
"We wanted to win, of course, but we wanted to compete," Winslow coach Steve Bodge said, "and if we can play with that team, we can play with every team."
Rollins missed the last couple days of practice, and still isn't 100 percent. She struck out seven and didn't walk a batter, and although the weather got to her a bit at the end, she wrapped up the win in 73 pitches.
"I think I'm coming down with something, and I've actually had problems with my knee lately," Rollins said. "So I kind of just pushed through it today and got the win."
Gardiner picked up a run in the top of the fourth when Lilly Chepke singled, stole second, and came home when the Raiders threw away Steph Plourde's ground ball. The Tigers would finish with eight hits, but Winslow pitcher Megan Richards stubbornly refused to let them break through. Gardiner left the bases loaded in the first, and stranded two runners in both the fourth and the fifth.
So even though Winslow's only baserunner through six innings came when Jenna Petrovic reached on a dropped third strike, Gardiner still led only 1-0 heading into the top of the seventh. Even when the Raiders made solid contact, Gardiner's defense -- especially third baseman Taylor Banister and center fielder Kylee Granholm -- stood out.
"We've been working very hard on our defense," Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw said. "The kids just have been really focusing on every pitch. That's what you hear me say a lot -- 'Every pitch.' I want them to focus every pitch like the ball's going to them, and as you can see, they're reacting to that very well."
Gardiner scratched out two more runs in the seventh despite not hitting the ball out of the infield. That meant Rollins had a 3-0 lead as she tried for her first no-hitter, and she was well aware she had not allowed a hit.
Winslow's Jessica Pare led off the seventh with a hard grounder that hit Banister's glove and rocked her back for a second, but Banister recovered to nip Pare at first. Ali LeClair followed with a grounder to third. Banister's throw was off, but first baseman Kristal Smith made a leaping catch and sweep tag for the second out.
Jen Poulin was up next, and jumped on a 1-1 pitch and sent a scorching line drive that got by the left fielder. With the left field fence 275 feet away from home plate, Poulin was able to circle the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
"I was hoping to keep it going, but it was a nice hit," Rollins said. "I give her props."
Rollins then got the next out on a flyout to Granholm in center field.
"We've just got to recoup and get ready for Friday -- 6-3 Lincoln Academy and we play them once," Bodge said. "So we gotta be ready, and we will be ready."
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243