University’s formula for softball success requires minimal analysis.
The Titans’ setbacks this Greater Spokane League season occurred when their bats went south.
“We got three-hit by (Gonzaga) Prep and three-hit by Central Valley and lost them both, so I guess we have to have more than three hits,” U-Hi coach Jon Schuh said.
The host Titans accomplished that Friday afternoon when they rapped out 10 hits in a 9-1 decision that cut first-place Mead’s (8-1) lead to one game over U-Hi, CV and North Central.
Returning GSL Most Valuable Player Brittany Hecker (7-2) pitched a two-hitter, striking out 13 and walking three, and went 2 for 3 with one run batted in.
“You can’t beat 13 strikeouts, especially when it’s 21 outs (in a seven-inning game),” Hecker said. “But I had a great defense behind me and they made some awesome plays.”
“She’s been in command of her change-up (this season) and today she didn’t have a good change-up, but she had a better rise ball and a better slider,” Schuh said of Hecker. “It’s a joy to watch her when she has control of a couple of her pitches.”
Hecker and Mead starter Hannah Beloved (4-1) matched no-hit ball through three innings. Hecker had U-Hi’s first hit, a one-out single to right field, during a three-run fourth as Titans batters got their second chances at Beloved.
“The second time around we had a better approach,” Schuh said.
In the fourth, Titans senior center fielder Ryelynn Mendoza led off and started a rally by taking a pitch to her elbow. Mendoza walked off the injury, stayed in the game, and scored when Mead shortstop Hailey Shanholtzer threw high to first base on Kendra Bruno’s grounder.
Bruno moved to second on Hecker’s single and scored on Brooklyn Tacke’s single to center. Tacke drew a throw in a rundown between first and second, allowing Hecker’s courtesy runner, Aziza Foster, to scamper home. Tacke also pulled that play to score Foster in the fifth.
“Our big thing was that if we could put the ball in play, good things would happen,” Schuh said. “Part of how we play is that if we have baserunners, we kind of create havoc at first and third, and we were able to do that.”
Lacey Awbery ignited U-Hi’s five-run fifth with a leadoff double, the only extra-base hit during the windy, cool day. Mendoza, Hecker, Tacke and Karly Schuh had RBI hits in the inning.
Shanholtzer broke up Hecker’s no-hit bid with a no-out single to right in the sixth.
U-Hi will play at NC on Tuesday in a key 3A matchup.