North County High School softball coach Sue Fitchett doesn't know which element was most responsible for her team's win over No. 1 Chesapeake yesterday -- Karen Hay's pitching or her players' long memories.
Hay threw a three-hit shutout to lead the second-ranked Knights over the host Cougars, 2-0, in a rain-soaked game that provided some redemption for last year's season-ending loss to Chesapeake.
In that game, North County built an early 4-0 lead, only to lose, 5-4, and end up without a playoff berth. Chesapeake went on to its second straight Class 4A state championship.
"The kids still had that in mind," Fitchett said.
The revenge factor, coupled with righthander Hay having the ball, was all the Knights needed.
The senior windmiller allowed only a fourth-inning single to Becky Thiele and seventh-inning hits to Jaime Long and Natalie Black. She struck out 12 and didn't issue a walk.
In the seventh, Long grounded a one-out single to center and Black doubled to right. Long tried to score, but was thrown out on a perfect relay from rightfielder Kristie Rhinehart to second baseman Cheryl Thomshack to catcher Lisa Garrison.
Hay (3-0) then struck out Tracy Starke to end the game.
North County (4-0) scored both of its runs in the second on four hits, a walk and an error. Senior Nicki Faulkner lined a bases-loaded single to center that scored Kim Horney, who had reached on an infield hit, and Cheryl Thomshack scored when centerfielder Tracy Starke overran the ball.
Chesapeake's pitcher, senior Kristin Spak, escaped further harm by striking out Lisa Garrison and getting Tina Armstrong to fly out to Starke. Junior Lori Congdon replaced Spak after two innings and allowed just two Knights hits thereafter.