Katie McKenzie doubled twice with the bases loaded while Sydney Nester struck out 17 in a two-hit shutout Friday as Carroll County defeated Hidden Valley 10-0 in six innings in a River Ridge District contest in Hillsville.
Carroll County (7-0, 3-0 River Ridge District) banged out 15 hits as seven different Cavaliers had base knocks in the mercy-rule victory. McKenzie provided the most damage, driving in five runs with a three-run double in the first inning and a two-run double with the bases loaded in the fourth. McKenzie appears to enjoy Hidden Valley pitching, especially with the bases loaded.
“Last year the game with them was 1-0 and Katie hit a double with the bases loaded. We had just moved her up from the JV team the day before and she hit the double to clear the bases,” Carroll County head coach Rick Nester said. “And five RBIs today, that’s a big afternoon for her. The girls hit the ball very well today from one through nine. They put the ball in play hard multiple times. I am very pleased with the hitting today, pleased with their approach at the plate.”
McKenzie’s three- run double in the first inning would be more than enough cushion for Cavalier ace Sydney Nester, who struck out 17, including four in the sixth inning (Hidden Valley’s Kiana Cook reached on a dropped third strike that inning, allowing for the four whiffs). Carroll’s sophomore sensation got into a little trouble to start the game as leadoff hitter Jordan Johnson reached on a single past third and Lauren Pauley followed with an infield single. A wild pitch allowed both runners to move up to second and third with no outs.
Nester would whiff Cook, Sidney Stineling and Julia Nelson in succession to end the inning, beginning a streak of seven straight strike outs. In fact, Nester retired 15 straight Titans batters before she hit Bailey Hannabass with a pitch to open the sixth inning. Nester then fanned Johnson, Pauley and Cook in order, but Cook reached on a third strike to keep the inning alive. Nester ended it the next batter with a strikeout of Stineling, her fourth of the inning.
“Sydney’s changeup kept them off-balance the whole night. She threw it well, threw it for strikes,” Rick Nester said. “(Catcher) Caitlin (Horton) kept it in front of her because it is going to be in dirt. She kept it in front where they can’t move up on it and that gives us confidence that we can throw it on any count. And for those hitters up there, that’s a tough pitch. When she throws that hard and then throws that changeup, it is tough to hit it.”
Johnson’s line drive to right field in the third inning and Stineling’s pop fly to center in the fourth were the only other balls put in play by Hidden Valley. Meanwhile, Carroll continued to increase its lead at the plate.
The Cavaliers added three more runs in the second inning to go up 6-0. Kayla Robinson started the inning with a single to right field and Morgan Tompkins reached base on a bunt that was thrown away at first. Kyndall Hiatt made it 5-0 with a two-run double to center field and Gracie Davidson lined a double off the left field fence to score Hiatt for a 6-0 advantage.
After going scoreless in the third, Carroll tacked on three more runs in the fourth. McKenzie doubled again with the bases loaded, this time driving in two runs for an 8-0 lead. Robinson followed with an RBI single past shortstop to score Horton for a 9-0 Cavalier advantage.
Carroll ended the game by the mercy rule in the sixth inning. With two outs, Tompkins singled up the middle and moved up to third on Hiatt’s single to center. Davidson then reached on an RBI infield single to score Tompkins to end the game.
“We’ve been working on our hitting with the mindset of being aggressive, being ready to go, get your pitch and then go after it when you see it. We had a lot of hard-hit balls early in the count and a lot of them battled late in the count, kept fouling off pitches and making the girl work,” Nester said. “This today I think was the best hitting we’ve done this year throughout the whole game. I knew it was going to be a battle. We got some big hits with runners on base. That opened it up and we got hits at clutch times tonight that if you miss that ball just a little bit it would have changed the game completely. But they centered it up and that opened it up for us and everybody seemed to relax.”
Aside from McKenzie’s huge game, Hiatt was 3-for-5 for Carroll with two runs and 2 RBI, while Emily Cook went 3-for-4 with a run. Davidson had two hits and 2 RBI for the Cavaliers and Robinson was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Tompkins had two hits and also scored a run for Carroll.
H. Valley 000 000 – 0 2 5
Carroll Co. 330 301 – 10 14 0
Nelson and Cook (HV); Nester and Horton (CC). WP – Nester. LP – Nelson. 2B – McKenzie 2, Hiatt, Davidson (CC).
Carroll Co. 2, Salem 1
Sydney Nester tied her own school record with 19 strikeouts April 11 in Carroll County’s 2-1 River Ridge District softball victory at Salem.
The sophomore sensation set a school record just 13 days earlier with 19 strikeouts in a 6-0 win at Floyd County. That game went eight innings, however, while she duplicated the feat April 11 in a seven-inning contest. Of the 21 outs Nester recorded in the complete-game victory, only two did not come on a third strike. Sammie Haga hit a comebacker to Nester to open the game, while Jennie Battaglia was retired on a sacrifice in the fifth inning. Every other out Nester recorded was a whiff.
For the game, the N.C. State commit walked one and gave up four hits and one unearned run. Even with her dominating pitching performance, Carroll still had to sweat it out against the Spartans. Salem pitcher Haellie Gordon had a fine game as well, striking out eight and walking two while scattering nine hits.
The Cavaliers broke through early with a run in the top of the first. Gracie Davidson, who went 2-for-4 and scored both Carroll runs, reached on a one-out single. After Nester walked, Davidson scored on Caitlin Horton’s RBI single up the middle.
The scored stayed 1-0 until the top of the fifth when Davidson ripped a leadoff single and moved to third on Nester’s double to left. Katie McKenzie made it 2-0 Carroll with an RBI grounder to short to score Davidson.
Salem struck with a run in the bottom half of the fifth. Josie Burner drew a leadoff walk and Gordon singled before Burner scored on an error. Nester then struck out Lauren Moran and Haga to end the inning.
Horton went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead Carroll at the plate, while Nester doubled twice in a 3-for-3 effort. Lexi Bryant collected two of Salem’s hits.
Carroll 100 010 0 – 2 9 1
Salem 000 010 0 – 1 4 2
Nester and Horton (CC); Gordon and (N/A). WP – Nester. LP – Gordon. 2B – Nester 2 (CC); Bryant (S).
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN