Carroll’s Nester hurls second perfect game

By Allen Worrell - aworrell@civitasmedia.com
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The legend of Sydney Nester added another chapter Friday as the Carroll County ace hurled the second perfect game of her career in a 7-0 River Ridge District victory over Patrick Henry in Hillsville.

Nester, who threw the first perfect game in school history against Blacksburg on May 19, 2015, did it again Friday in the first game of a doubleheader with the Patriots. Both games were just five innings due to the doubleheader, but that didn’t take away from Nester’s dominance. She retired all 15 batters she faced, 12 of them on strikeouts.

Of the three balls Patrick Henry (3-8) put in play, none of them left the infield. Taylor Eichelberger hit a weak grounder back to Nester in the first inning, Elissa Miller popped up to Nester to end the second inning, and Allison Ripple hit a hard shot to third baseman Laken Crockett to open the fifth and final inning. The usually steady Crockett made a high throw to first base, causing Emily Cook to jump high off the bag. But Cook made a heck of a play, making the catch and turning in time to tag Ripple out to preserve the perfecto for Nester. Nester then struck out Brittany Burton and Miller to complete the perfect game.

“Sydney pitched really well,” Carroll County head coach Rick Nester said after the game. “She has also thrown two no-hitters this year (against Cave Spring and Floyd County).”

Nester would go on to retire the first five batters she faced in the second game of the doubleheader. Two days earlier, she retired 20 straight hitters after surrendering a one-out single in the first inning of a 7-0 win over Grayson County. Between those three games, Nester retired 40 consecutive hitters, pitching 13.1 perfect innings before giving up a single to Brittany Burton in the second game of Friday’s twinbill.

Carroll County (12-0, 8-0 River Ridge District) certainly needed the outstanding performance from their junior ace because the team struggled mightily at the plate. The Cavaliers only managed one base runner the first two innings against Eichelberger. Kyndall Hiatt’s single up the middle with two outs in the third was the first hit for Carroll, who only managed four base knocks for the game.

The Cavaliers finally broke through in the fourth inning as the Patriots became unglued in the field. Cook started by reaching on an error that was dropped on what looked like a routine play by the P.H. center fielder. Nester followed by drawing a walk and Crockett was hit by a pitch as she was attempting to bunt, loading the bases.

Even then, things didn’t look great for the Cavs after Katie McKenzie reached on a fielder’s choice, but Eichelberger stepped on home plate for a force out, preserving the scoreless tie. Chloe Easter came up big on the next at bat, however, smacking an RBI single between shortstop and third base to score Nester for the first run of the game.

Crockett went on to score on a wild pitch and Chasity Tompkins matched Easter with an RBI single to short that scored McKenzie. Rick Nester then called for Taylor Spangler to bunt and the move paid off as the ball was thrown away by the Patrick Henry shortstop, allowing two more runs to score for a 5-0 lead.

“We wanted to get a little pressure on them. We got some hits and put pressure on them with the bunt. They didn’t handle the bunt and threw it way and it just snowballed on them a little bit,” Rick Nester said. “We struggled at the beginning. Everybody was out in front of the pitcher. A five-inning game always makes you nervous because you are going to lose an at bat. The third inning was really like the bottom of the fifth. We were going to bunt to get them over because we had to get a run.”

And then things started to get weird. Hiatt made it 6-0 with an RBI double to center. Alexis Meredith was then thrown out on a grounder to third base. She collided with the Patrick Henry first baseman as a hard-charging Hiatt was rounding third. The ump called the play dead after the collision, but ruled Hiatt could score anyway.

Kayleigh Webb then appeared to go down on strikes for the third out of the inning. But as the Patrick Henry players left the field, Nester yelled for Webb to run. After she made it to first base, the home plate umpire ruled her safe, saying the third strike was dropped. At that point, the Patrick Henry head coach lost it, going ballistic in a tirade that resulted in his ejection for the remainder of the doubleheader.

Hiatt went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI to lead the Cavs at the plate. Easter and Tompkins both went 1-for-2 with a run and RBI each.

P. Henry 000 00 – 0 0 2

Carroll Co. 000 7x – 7 4 0

Eichelberger and Burton (PH); Nester and Hiatt (CC). WP – Nester. LP – Eichelberger. 2B – Hiatt (CC).

Carroll Co. 9, Patrick Henry 0

Jena Alley hit a two-run home run and Sydney Nester struck out nine in four innings as Carroll County swept Friday’s doubleheader over Patrick Henry with a 9-0 win in game two.

Nester started the game and allowed just one hit, a two-out single to Brittany Burton in the second inning. Kayla Walker reached on an error in the third, the only two runners Nester allowed in nine innings of work over the two games Friday. Emily Cook pitched a scoreless fifth inning to close out the sweep.

Carroll got its offense going a little earlier in the second game, scoring four runs in the second inning. Alexis Meredith provided the biggest blow with a two-run single, while Chloe Easter and Emily Cook both chipped in RBI singles.

The Cavs put the game away with five runs in the fourth. Cook drove in another run on an RBI groundout to first, Nester ripped a two-run single, and Alley capped the sweep with a two-run homer to left field.

Meredith went 2-for-3 to lead Carroll at the plate with a run and 2 RBIs. Easter went 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Cook, Nester and Alley all drove in two runs on one hit, and Hiatt went 1-for-3 and scored twice in the victory.

P. Henry 000 00 – 0 2 1

Carroll Co. 040 5x – 9 9 1

Miller, Eichelberger (4) and Burton (PH); Nester, Cook (5) and Hiatt (CC). WP – Nester. LP – Miller. HR – Alley (CC).

Carroll Co. 7, Grayson Co. 0

Sydney Nester hit a solo home run and pitched a one-hit shutout April 26 as Carroll County’s softball team defeated Grayson County 7-0 in a nondistrict contest in Hillsville.

Nester provided the first run of the game as she hit a solo home run to centerfield for a 1-0 lead in the second inning. It would prove to be all the offense Carrollwould need as Nester allowed just one base runner. After giving up a one-out single to Shalee Choate in the first inning, Nester retired the final 20 Grayson County batters of the game. She struck out eight and walked none.

The Cavaliers added to the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Emily Cook led off the frame with a single and Nester moved her over the third with a double. Laken Crockett brought one run home with a sacrifice fly to center, and Katie McKenzie’s RBI single made it 3-0.

Carroll put the game away with four more runs in the sixth inning. Crockett led off with a single and later scored on Chloe Easter’s RBI single with two outs. Taylor Spangler followed with a single and Kyndall Hiatt drove in two runs with a double to right center. Alexis Meredith’s run-scoring single plated Hiatt for the final run.

Meredith, Easter and Nester all had two hits and an RBI for the Cavaliers. Hiatt drove in two runs and scored another, while Kayleigh Webb scored twice. Crockett and McKenzie both had a hit and an RBI, while Cook and Spangler each had one hit and scored a run.

Grayson 000 000 0 – 0 1 1

Carroll 010 204 x – 7 11 0

Kirk and D. Choate (GC); Nester and Hiatt (CC). WP – Nester. LP – Kirk. 2B – Nester, Hiatt (CC). HR – Nester (CC).

Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN

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Cavalier ace flawless against Patrick Henry, retires 40 straight over three games

By Allen Worrell

aworrell@civitasmedia.com