Nothing short of perfect …
Holland’s gem leads Lady ‘Cats past rival Bonner Springs
The Basehor-Linwood softball team was beating Bonner Springs 7-0 in Game 1 of a doubleheader Monday, but there was still reason for worry when the Bravettes were down to their last out.
Not a single Bravette had reached base up to that point, so when BLHS ace Kristal Holland ran the count full against Tiffany Moppin, she knew that pitching another ball wouldn't cause just an everyday walk.
"I was really, really nervous," Holland said. "I would have felt pretty bad if I walked her."
With that in mind, Holland made sure her final pitch was exactly like the rest of her game: perfect.
Holland painted the outside corner with a fastball that froze Moppin and, when the umpire rung Moppin up emphatically, Holland had her first no-hitter of the year. It was even sweeter because it was a perfect game, with no errors, no walks, no hit batters, no base runners whatsoever.
"It felt great," Holland said. "My team was behind me, we played really well in the field and hit really well. Everything just came together today."
Holland's teammates spotted her three runs before she even took the mound, getting all three with two outs against Bonner ace Sadie Kelly after the Bravettes muffed a pop-up that would have been the third out. After battling through a couple of 1-0 games this year, Holland was able to just rear back and throw strikes with a nice cushion to work with.
And work she did, striking out 11 Bravettes and rarely even going to a three-ball count in the process.
"She was definitely in a rhythm," BLHS coach Susan Mayberry said. "She was hitting her locations and staying around the strike zone so if they had two strikes they had to try and swing. She pitched really well and she's definitely coming into form."
Basehor-Linwood catcher Codi Schierbaum agreed. Schierbaum has caught every inning for Holland this season and said that Monday was as good as she has seen the senior pitcher all year.
"In the beginning she was struggling a little, but now she's doing great," Schierbaum said. "I can't wait for regionals."
All the Lady 'Cats seemed primed for postseason play on Monday. After the three-run first, the bats really got rolling in the six, as BLHS exploded for four hits and four runs. Kelly was the best pitcher Bonner Springs had to offer but three Bobcats had multi-hit games against her. Chelsey Patton went 3-5, Laura Reed went 3-4 and Schierbaum was 2-3 with a double.
"We were just waiting for the ball because she's a slower pitcher," Schierbaum said. "We were up in the batter's box a little more than usual."
The seven two-out runs the Lady 'Cats managed were more than enough for Holland on Monday. Her teammates seemed determined to give her a chance at a second straight no-hitter as they started Game 2 with two sparkling defensive plays. Maggie Schroeder made a lunging grab at short and Erin Shore made a diving snag in left field to keep the Bravettes hitless.
Bonner Springs broke up the second no-hit bid with a double in the third inning and finished the game with three hits. Holland did get a four-inning shutout win though, after the Bravettes had to forfeit the second game when their only catcher was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
That victory was the Lady 'Cats sixth straight, as the team showed a complete performance that looked playoff-ready.
"We're getting there," Mayberry said. "This is the kind of team that looks forward to post season."
With regionals fast approaching, it's certainly a good sign for BLHS that Holland is looking as dominant as she has ever been. After early season struggles, the Lady Bobcats' goal of returning to the state tournament is coming into focus.
"We worked really hard to get back to where we were last year and I think we've even gotten a little better," Holland said.
Holland and the Lady 'Cats faced Lansing on Wednesday in the regular season finale, but results weren't available at press time.
For a report of the games, see next week's Sentinel. Regional play will begin at 4:45 p.m. on Monday, May 15, against Piper at De Soto.