• Val T.

Back-to-back no-hitters:

After Gotshall blanks West Lafayette, Cripe, Blickenstaff combine to shut down Rochester in 23-0 win


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

The Pioneer softball team is like a jukebox. They produce hit after hit after hit.

The Rochester softball team found out how well they hit when they lost 23-0 in five innings at Fansler Field Friday in a game that featured a cycle and a no-hitter.

Pioneer’s Mackenzie Walker hit for the cycle in a 23-0 win in five innings over Rochester at Fansler Field Friday. She had an RBI triple in the first, an RBI double in the second, a two-run homer in the fourth and a single in the fifth. She went 4 for 5 with four RBIs and three runs scored for the Class 2A, No. 13 Lady Panthers.
Mackenzie Walker

Senior first baseman Mackenzie Walker had the cycle. She finished off her day with a single in the sixth to complete the feat and finished with four RBIs and three runs scored.

Hailey Cripe matched her with 10 total bases. After flying to center her first time up, she doubled three times and cranked a long homer to left in the fifth.

Cripe and Crystabelle Blickenstaff pitched a combined no-hitter. Cripe struck out seven in three innings and Blickenstaff fanned one over the final two innings.

The no-hitter comes one day after Hailey Gotshall spun a five-inning hitless gem in an 11-0 win in five innings over West Lafayette Thursday.

There were three Rochester baserunners. Mya Musselman reached on an error in the first and walked in the fourth. Keyton Doran walked in the fifth. Doran was the only Rochester baserunner to reach as far as third.

The top six hitters in Pioneer’s order all had multi-hit games, which was noteworthy because normal leadoff hitter Kylie Farris was away at a scholarship interview. So the lineup could potentially get even deeper.

“Just let the ball travel,” Pioneer coach Gabrielle Thomas said when asked how she advises her hitters to adapt to pitchers that don’t have great speed like Sells. “That’s how you adapt to those type of pitchers. You let it travel, and then you barrel it up. We do focus a lot on line drives. Line drive shots I’d rather see. Line drive shots, they go further, farther, and we were able to hit one out today.”

Freshman Brooklyn Borges went 3 for 3 hitting leadoff. Gotshall had a double, a triple and a homer and drove in three and scored three. No. 5 hitter Madison Blickenstaff went 2 for 2 with two RBIs and three runs scored. No. 6 hitter Mackenzie Robinson went 3 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

As for Walker, she didn’t know she had a cycle until after the game.

“I didn’t even know I did that,” Walker said. “As a hitter, I had to make sure I put my weight back and let the ball travel in more before actually swinging. There were moments where I definitely did not do that. And one time I hit my foot because I didn’t do that, but you’ve just got to be patient, and then you can barrel it up and get a good hit.”

Rochester had nine available players. Kallie Watson missed the game with an undisclosed injury, but coach Becky Lee said she hoped to have Watson back for Monday’s game at Eastern (Greentown). Chloe Nichols missed the game because she was performing in “Shrek The Musical.”

Freshman Emma Sells made her first career appearance in the circle and allowed 11 hits and 11 runs in two innings. Sydney Haughs soaked up the final three innings and gave up 12 runs.

Given the opponent, Lee praised Sells for her competitive spirit.

“Outstanding,” Lee said. “Couldn’t have done any more than what I asked her to do. She threw strikes. She threw a heck of a game. That was her first career high school varsity game start. I’m so proud of her. She’s a freshman.”

Lee also praised Pioneer’s offense.

“They’re incredible,” Lee said. “As a coach, it’s awesome to have your players see hitters like that. To be resilient and to be able to hit it wherever it’s pitched. They do a fantastic job. Outside pitch, they take to the right side. Inside pitch, they pull. They’re outstanding. Great team.”

Pioneer has won three straight games this week by a combined score of 56-1. A season-opening 5-4 loss to Delphi is the only blemish on Pioneer’s record.

“Absolutely,” Thomas said when asked if the Delphi loss has motivated the team. “The good thing is we get to see them at the Twin Lakes tourney on May 8. So I’m ready for that. … It motivated them because we were able to see that we needed to get those timely hits when we needed to, and defensively settle down and help our pitchers make those plays and do what we need to do to win a ballgame.”

Pioneer 23, Rochester 0 (5 innings)

Pioneer 385 52 – 23 24 1

Rochester 000 00 – 0 0 1

WP – Hailey Cripe (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K)

LP – Emma Sells (2 IP, 11 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 2 BB, 0 K)

2B – Hailey Gotshall (PIO), Hailey Cripe 3 (PIO), Mackenzie Walker (PIO), Madison Blickenstaff 2 (PIO), Mackenzie Robinson (PIO), Adeline Cripe (PIO), Crystabelle Blickenstaff (PIO)

3B – Hailey Gotshall (PIO), Mackenzie Walker (PIO)

HR – Hailey Gotshall (PIO), Hailey Cripe (PIO), Mackenzie Walker (PIO)


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