CARMICHAELS – Erica Burns, a senior starting pitcher for Carmichaels, is not shy about her love of facing Section 2-A rival Jefferson-Morgan on the softball field.
On a day when she was at her best, Burns frustrated Jefferson-Morgan’s hitters with 11 strikeouts and scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Mikes defeated the Rockets, 1-0.
The victory moves Carmichaels (6-1, 8-2) into second place in the section, a half game behind first-place Frazier, while Jefferson-Morgan (6-2, 8-2) drops to third in the standings.
Burns pitched a complete-game shutout and allowed just three hits to lift Carmichaels when its offense struggledto generate baserunners.
“(Facing Jefferson-Morgan) pushes me so much harder,” Burns said. “This was a crazy game. I thought we’d hit better, but we’re still and a young team and we’re getting better each game. You can’t really complain about that, but I am definitely surprised how the game ended.”
While Burns was exceptional for the Mikes, her counterpart almost matched her performance. Jefferson-Morgan junior pitcher Madison Ludrosky also struck out 11 batters and allowed just five hits in six innings, but one fastball just inches over her catcher’s glove cost the Rockets.
“Success for any team in every game starts with the pitcher,” Jefferson-Morgan head coach Tony Barbetta said. “We didn’t get enough hits to win, but it was a good game and they’re a great team. (Burns) was tough today.”
Mikes junior catcher Katie Mays led off the sixth inning with a line drive up the middle that was misplayed by the center fielder. Mays did not hesitate to round first base and tried to get into scoring posit. The throw beat her to the bag, but a high tag allowed Mays to sneak into second.
Ludrosky forced Carmichaels senior Chelsee McCann to pop up to center field and freshman Kaitlyn Wilson’s bunt moved McCann to third base. Ludrosky then sat down another batter on a strikeout. With two outs and Burns, the Mikes’ leadoff hitter coming to the plate, Ludrosky intentionally walked the senior to face center fielder Mia Virgili.
Ludrosky’s first pitch to Virgili sailed high over the glove of Rockets junior catcher Reagan Rush to allow McCann to score for a 1-0 Carmichaels lead.
“After we lost to them in the first game, we needed this one,” Carmichaels head coach Dave Briggs said. “I think their pitcher was worried about (Burns) stealing second and that throw got away from her. We’ll take it.”
Trailing by one run, Jefferson-Morgan, which defeated Carmichaels 4-2 last month, had one last chance to tie the game but Burns shut the door with three-straight strikeouts in the seventh inning to secure the win.
The Rockets had just two runners reach scoring position, and two of their three hits came on infield singles.
Briggs was relieved to see Burns rebound after struggling against Jefferson-Morgan in the Mikes’ loss, but he’s not surprised. Burns has quickly become one of the area’s best pitchers.
“She is solid,” Briggs said. “Today she was at the top of her game and held them scoreless. You can’t ask for more than that.”
After Carmichaels left too many runners on base in the first meeting with J-M, the same trend developed when the Mikes stranded nine baserunners over the first six innings. Although a hit did not drive in the run, Briggs will happily take the run and win.
“We’re glad to get this one, but it doesn’t end,” Briggs said. “Every game in this section is like a playoff game, so we can’t celebrate too much.”