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Hurried Hanna pitches Cabell Midland past SC

Cabell Midland's Kaity Hanna might want to think about adopting a new pregame routine.

The senior right-hander hurried through her usual warm-up, but settled in to fire a one-hit shutout with 16 strikeouts in the Knights' 5-0 victory Friday evening over host South Charleston. A crowd of about 100 attended the matchup of Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference state-ranked teams.

Hanna arrived late to the game because of a class schedule issue.

"I was late a little bit so that messed me up,'' said Hanna, who tossed a perfect game Tuesday in a five-inning win at Parkersburg.

"My warm-ups weren't what I thought they would be. I knew what I wasn't doing right, so I fixed it on the mound. My catcher, Ashley [Boggs], told me I could do it and she believes in me, so I got out there and did what I could. It worked.''

Hanna only allowed two base runners, and just two of the seven balls that the Black Eagles put into play left the infield.

She retired the Black Eagles in order through the first four innings before SC's Brittany Saldivar lofted a double to right field with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Hanna punctuated her dominating 78-pitch performance with a 1-2-3 seventh in which she needed just seven pitches to retire the side in order.

"We may have to let her come in a little bit late every game,'' smiled Midland coach Jeanne Lunsford. "She did a fabulous job. Both pitchers did. It was a pitching duel from the get-go.''

SC's Alli Burdette allowed five runs, three of which were earned, on five hits with 14 punchouts and one walk. She was perfect through the first three innings before Midland scored two runs, aided by several miscues from the Black Eagles, in the fourth.

The second time through the lineup, the Knights broke through in the top of the fourth as leadoff hitter Morgan Zerkle reached on an error, stole second and third base, then scooted home on a throwing error. Midland's Sydney Kaplan sent a one-out double into center field, stole third and scored on a passed ball for a 2-0 edge.

Midland (9-1), which is No. 1 in the state coaches association preseason poll, broke the game open in the sixth, plating three runs for a 5-0 advantage.

Zerkle led off the sixth with a walk and stole second, then Makayla Waugh followed with a single and went to second without a throw. Kaplan reached on a squeeze bunt that brought in Zerkle. After the Knights' Morgan Kelley fanned, Boggs followed with a one-out, two-run single to set the final score.

"We made some adjustments on Alli and took advantage of a couple of mistakes,'' said Lunsford, who saw the top of her order score all five runs and get three of the team's five hits.

"The first time [through the lineup] Alli struck out eight of the nine then [our players] made some adjustments. They got on base and ran the bases aggressively.''

The last time Midland won the state title was in 2005, but the Knights are beginning to set themselves apart as one of the early contenders this season.

"We went down to Florida at the beginning of the year and saw some great competition,'' Lunsford said. "I think it was the best thing for us. [We saw] different types of players and teams and styles. We've just got to get better every game. This is all just practice until the end.''

No. 7 SC (4-6), which opened with losses in its first five games, was hoping to keep the momentum rolling after winning all four games this week.  

"You can't give a team like [Cabell Midland] anything easy,'' said SC first-year coach Bobby Catlett, whose team was playing for the fifth straight day. "Until the fourth inning we were playing pretty clean.

"You've got to make plays. That's the type of things that compound on you. We had one hit and you can't beat anybody if you don't score. We'll keep battling. We made a lot of progress this week. I think that did something for [our players].''

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkinson@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.


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