Blue Devil pitching prowess pounds Raiders
By Randy Lefko
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Bolstered by a 17 strikeout pitching performances by his two top pitchers; Kailah McKean and Morgan Crutcher, Clay High softball coach Matt Lewis got enough offense behind a five-run fourth inning to defeat Orange Park 9-1 on Fri., March 14.
"Kailah McKean is throwing lights out for us," said Lewis, noting McKean is also a state medalist for the Clay girls weightlifting team. "She had 17 strikeouts against Keystone Heights in seven innings and 12 innings tonight in four and a third innings."
The win comes a day after the Blue Devils lost a 2-1 contest to Ridgeview (8-1) on Thurs., March 12 with the Panthers' Brooke Michael nailing a solo homer off Crutcher in the first inning. Ridgeview scored a second run in the fourth off an error and the 2-0 lead held to the sixth with Ali Sarmon scoring off a Sydney Davis sacrifice fly. For Ridgeview, Brittany Michael relieved starter Milani Sablan in the sixth and finished the game.
Clay also snuck out of Keystone Heights with a 1-0 win behind McKean's 17 strikeouts and an RBI single by Casie Carlisle with Sydney Davis on base with her own single in the fifth.
Against the Raiders, McKean opened up on the mound and got relief from last year's ace, Crutcher, who executed as expected with five whiffs in just 2.2 innings.
"We were altenating every other game with these two, but with this being a possible last game, I wanted to give Morgan Crutcher some game time," said Lewis.
Clay, now 6-4, opened with three quick throwdowns from McKean who put down nine pitches to put three Raider batters back in the dugout.
In the batters' box, Clay's Ali Sarman sliced a single to center field then got moved on a walk to McKean before a dropped Sydney Davis fly ball at shortstop pushed Sarman in for the first run.
Orange Park didn't blink and added their own run with McKean walking Hayley Kimball and an error on a bunt from Adriannah Richardson tied the game.
Clay added three more in the second with Delaney Anfinson singling and scoring off an error on a grounder Gabby Wiseman and Kaylee Stacy nailing a bunt then scoring on a Casie Carlisle single.
Clay's five run bonanza in the fourth was highlighted by a triple to Stacy and doubles to Morgan Silvis and McKean.
Jenna Hiers took the pitching loss for Orange Park, now 4-6.