by Rob Grubbs
After three relatively easy wins to start their season, the Whitewater Lady Wildcats traveled to McIntosh Thursday for a key early season region matchup. Unfortunately, rain won the evening so the game was rescheduled for Friday at Whitewater. The weather was much improved, and the game was a well-played, crisp pitching duel, ending in a Whitewater 2-0 win as Wildcat ace Kinsey Sords tossed a no hitter.
The Lady Chiefs are much improved with the addition of freshman pitcher Rebecca Muh and a lineup that includes seniors Meagan McCamphill and Hayley Gill and will be fighting with Whitewater and Starr’s Mill for the region lead all year.
The Cats had been led by their younger players during the first three games, but, against the best pitching they have seen to date, their experienced leaders Sords, Katelyn Perry, and Bailey Vessell spurred the Wildcat attack. Vessell, who got on base all three times, led off the game with a single, advanced to third on a ground out by Perry, and scored on an error with two outs for the early 1-0 lead.
McIntosh looked poised to take the lead in the top of the third when they had runners at second and third and no outs, but Sords dug deep and retired the next three hitters without the ball leaving the infield.
The game remained at 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth, then Vessell singled, stole second, and scored when Kyna Cheney drove a solid single to center field for the all-important insurance run.
To complete the no hitter in the top of the seventh, Sords got the first two on strikeouts, and the final out came on a ground out to her for the easy toss to first. She finished with 10 strikeouts and admitted she was unaware of the no-hitter until her coaches told her afterwards.
Sords was complimentary of her catcher, sophomore Alexys Buffington. “Alexys always helps me keep my confidence up, and she did a good job today when I needed it, and the defense had my back the whole game.”
For her part, Muh was also effective from the circle for McIntosh, holding the Wildcats to only 5 hits and 1 earned run, striking out six and pitching a complete game.
Whitewater Coach Robert Townsend, who had said earlier “Sords can be as good a pitcher as she wants to be,” said after the game, “We did what we needed to do to win. It was a great team effort, and Kinsey was really good. It was good for our hitters to see pitching like Muh’s today. Our young players need to get used to seeing that.”
Whitewater played a non-region doubleheader on Saturday, as Townsend continues to watch his young players grow up. They split for the day, losing to Arabia Mountain, who went deep in the playoffs last year, 5-3, but beating Shiloh, 9-8, to improve their season record to 5-1.
This week will bring another big region game as McIntosh travels to Starr’s Mill, while Whitewater travels to Riverdale. Hopefully the Whitewater-McIntosh rematch on September 7 will be just as exciting and entertaining.
To purchase photos from the game, click [btn type=”default or primary or success or info or warning or danger or link” link=”http://www.cdphotography23.com/Sports/High-School/Softball/Softball-2017/Whitewater-vs-McIntosh/”]here[/btn].