Aberdeen ace Rachel Cassady does not believe in pitchers' duels.
Even after the senior threw a one-hitter against Bonnie Lawson's two-hitter Wednesday to give Aberdeen a 2-1 victory at John Carroll, Cassady didn't want to hear about the classic pitching matchup.
"It's not pitcher against pitcher," said Cassady. "It's a team sport. It's hard to throw 21 strikeouts in a game."
Lawson, who has played recreation softball with Cassady since they were 5 years old, agreed. "I don't feel in competition with her. I don't even think about that. I just go out there and throw."
Cassady had a no-hitter going through 6 2/3 innings, but she did need some defensive help to preserve the victory. Lisa Williamson bagged a couple of long fly balls to left field in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the seventh, first baseman Michelle Bennett turned a crucial double play.
Still, it is hard to see beyond the mound when the top two pitchers in the county face each other.
Cassady went into Wednesday's game with a 0.90 ERA. She struck out 11, walked three and faced only 25 batters for her first victory over defending county champion John Carroll.
Lawson, a junior left-hander, had a 2.69 ERA. She struck out
seven,walked four and hit two while facing 29 batters.
"You're not going to see a better game than this one. To me this is what softball's all about," said John Carroll coach Neal Drexel, whose Patriots (1-2) were ranked No. 11 in The Baltimore Sun poll.
The Eagles (2-1), ranked No. 13, got both of their runs on close plays at the plate in the third inning.
Kelly Eakin scored the first run on Jackie Elliott's infield grounder.
Patriots' third baseman Ellen Marr fielded the easy dribbler but hesitated before throwing to first.
That gave Eakin, who was hit by a pitch and reached second on a wild pitch, time to round third and head home. She slid in under catcher Kelly Barnes' tag.
Elliott stole second and reached third on a fielder's choice, setting up the Eagles' second run. Cassady hit another infield grounder, and Elliott beat the throw from second baseman Katie Nietubicz by a half-step as she crashed into Barnes.
Aberdeen coach Janie Robinson has seen close calls decide more than a few ball games. "Last year (against John Carroll), it was the same way -- only they got the breaks," she said.
The Patriots got one run back in the bottom of third. Kristen Merritt, who had walked and reached second on a wild pitch, took third on a passed ball and scored when Elliott overthrew third on the play.
John Carroll also threatened in the bottom ofthe seventh inning. Cassady struck out leadoff hitter Lawson, but the ball got by Elliott. Lawson was safe at first. Marr followed with apop up to Bennett who threw to second baseman Sandy Davis covering and doubled pinch runner Marcia Szyjka off first.
The double play proved costly for the Patriots, because Barnes came up next and knocked a single down the right-field line.
Pinch runner Maryalice Klopcic stole second and third, but Cassady struck out Janeen Psenicska swinging to end the game.
The Patriots had stranded three runners onbase, all of them on third.
Earlier in the week, the Patriots stranded 14 to help Bel Air stage a 7-5 upset.
"When you leave 14 people on base, you're not hitting the ball too well," said Drexel.