- Val T.
Mollenkopf tosses no-hitter, fans 15 as Caston reaches sectional final
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
DENVER — Kinzie Mollenkopf pitched a no-hitter to lead the Caston softball team to a 6-0 win over North White in a Class 1A, Sectional 52 semifinal at North Miami Tuesday.
Mollenkopf’s sterling outing included no walks and 15 strikeouts. North White’s only
baserunner came on a third-strike wild pitch. Of her 84 pitches, 70 were strikes. She faced the minimum 21 batters.
Caston improved to 19-4 and will meet North Miami in the sectional final at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. North Miami knocked off No. 6 West Central 4-2 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
The North Miami-Caston matchup will be a battle of conference champions: North Miami won the Three Rivers Conference while Caston captured the Hoosier North.
North White finished 11-13.
Isabel Scales had two singles, a double and an RBI for the No. 4 Lady Comets. Addison Zimpleman also had three hits.
Mollenkopf and Haley Logan had two hits and an RBI each, and Macee Hinderlider had a single and a double. Maddi Smith had a single and two RBIs. Bailey Harness also had a single.
Caston scored three runs in the first and then added two more in the third off starter Rylie Carter. Caston added another run in the fourth to complete the scoring.
Caston coach Jon Burks said that Mollenkopf was so economical with her pitches that he decided to leave her in the game. Mollenkopf had thrown three innings 24 hours earlier in a 17-0 win in five innings over Southwood in the quarterfinal.
“She was on tonight,” Burks said. “In all honesty, she was on tonight. We actually planned on letting her get four or five (innings) and let her rest, but she was smoking. She was just dialed in. Everything was really working for her tonight, so she did really well. I applaud her. Hats off to her.”
Caston defeated North Miami 14-10 in their regular season meeting on April 11. North Miami ace hurler Lauren Duncan did not pitch in six of North Miami’s nine losses, but the earlier Caston game was one of the games in which she did pitch.
Burks said the key to a tournament run is being able to hit good pitching.
“We’ve been really working hard,” Burks said. “I mean, about 75 percent of our practices have been hitting and hitting and hitting. Defense and pitching is going to get you wins, but you’ve got to score runs. Our defense and pitching is there. We’ve just got to hit the ball and put it in play and let them make some mistakes. Last night, (Southwood) made mistakes, and we took advantage of that.”
Burks said he tuned a pitching machine to throw 68 mph to help them prepare for Pioneer’s Hailey Cripe last week, and the Lady Comets won 6-5 to clinch the Hoosier North title.
But he quipped that the players have seen plenty of live batting practice too.
“That’s what I stressed to them. … The hitting’s really working. We’re wearing my arm out,” he said.
Caston 6, North White 0
North White 000 000 0 – 0 0 2
Caston 302 100 X – 6 14 0
WP – Kinzie Mollenkopf (7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 K)
LP – Rylie Carter (4 ⅔ IP, 13 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K)
2B – Isabel Scales (CAS), Macee Hinderlider (CAS)