Mullins comes through for North County, 2-1

Her pitching in the clutch lifts Knights over Old Mill

Softball

High School

April 23, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Some pitchers cringe when faced with the task of working out of a late-inning jam in a tight game.

As for North County sophomore Beth Mullins? "I love it -- so much fun," she said.

Yesterday was twice as much fun for Mullins, who worked her way out of a bases-loaded situation in the sixth against visiting Old Mill and then stranded the tying run on second base in the seventh to lead the No. 3 Knights to a 2-1 win over the No. 12 Patriots.

With two outs and Danielle Ziegler on second base for the Patriots, Mullins caught Dawn Artman looking at an off-speed pitch on the outside corner for her 12th strikeout of the game.

North County improved to 9-2 for the season and to 8-1 in county play, while the Patriots (5-5) lost their fourth one-run decision to a ranked opponent.

"I think I focus a little more on my pitches [when in a jam]," said Mullins, who is now 7-2 for the season with an earned-run average just over one.

"Old Mill is a very good hitting team, so if I screw up on location, they're going to hit it. I used my cut pitch a lot to get early strikes, and [the umpire] was giving me the outside corner."

It was Mullins who provided the Knights with their first run in the fourth when she tripled to deep right and scored on a wild pitch by Old Mill's Jenn Clarke, who allowed just four hits.

A single by Amanda Baldwin, an infield error and another wild pitch gave North County a 2-0 lead in the sixth, and it was needed after Old Mill shortstop Danielle Ziegler singled home Ashley Burnham with two outs in the seventh. After Ziegler stole second, Mullins closed out the game by getting Artman looking.

Despite the win, North County coach Bobby Boyd's reaction was restrained.

On three occasions, the Knights failed to execute on sacrifice bunts to push across runs.

"I think we're starting to rely too much on Beth, and we're getting too complacent in hitting," he said. "In the beginning of the season, we were making things happen, where lately we've been waiting for things to happen."

The Patriots once again showed they were right there against the county's best, but they haven't been able to find a way to get over the top. Yesterday was the second time they've lost a one-run decision to North County, and they also have one-run setbacks against No. 1 Chesapeake of Anne Arundel and No. 2 Northeast.

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