WALTONVILLE – Two of the top pitchers in Jefferson County squared off Friday afternoon as St. Mary’s Claire Heinzman and Waltonville’s Jaiden Ellis matched up inside the circle.
In the end, the Knights came through, 3-1, to improve to 4-0 on the season in Junior High softball action.
“It was [a] very exciting [game],” said St. Mary coach Jean Jones. “It was a little nerve-racking, but it was a good win.”
With the game tied, 1-1, in the top of the fifth inning, Heinzman drilled the first pitch from Ellis over the center fielder’s head for a two-run inside the park home run.
Heinzman’s hit proved to be the difference at the plate for St. Mary.
“You can’t predict what’s going to happen,” said Jones. “It was a nice hit and she did what she was supposed to do. Coming off [Thursday against Bethel-McClellan] they just couldn’t get into a groove. Finally, they did. Sometimes it’s too late, but today it wasn’t.
“Our defense did a really nice job. Brooklyn Phillips had [two] really good plays that made a big difference. If it would have gotten through, they would have scored.”
Heinzman struck out 14 and threw 6 2/3 innings of no-hit softball before allowing a single to Makenzie Beck in the seventh inning.
St. Mary opened the scoring in the second inning. Kylie Akes walked. She moved to second on a wild pitch and later to third on a passed ball before scoring the game’s first run on two-out single to right field off the bat of Leigha Moore.
Waltonville tied the game with a run in the fourth inning. Heinzman hit Alana Anderson with a pitch. Anderson stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error.
Anderson then scored on a ground ball down the first base line that was fielded by Heinzman off the bat of Lily Lentz to tie the game, 1-1.
“I think we did a great job for our first time coming out,” said Waltonville coach Colene Stanley. “We are a young team. I have two-eighth graders on the field. One, this is her second year playing.
“I think we did well. We stopped the ball. We hit our cuts in the outfield. We hit late and we could work more on hitting, but it’s our first game with a lot of young girls.”
Ellis allowed four hits, three runs, striking out 10 and walking two.
St. Mary (4-0) plays Tuesday at Lincoln Park against Jasper. Waltonville (0-1) is at Spring Garden on Monday.