6:00: Morning News

Pettit’s pitching lifts John Marshall to 1-0 win over University, regional title

GLEN DALE, W.Va. — In need of a third game to determine the Class A Region I champion, John Marshall welcomed University to settle the score Wednesday in a regional series that showed there wasn’t much separation between the two teams.

Very little separated the squads in the winner-take-all affair, though ultimately the pitching of the Monarchs’ Kadence Pettit ruled out to send John Marshall back to the state tournament.

Pettit tossed a complete game two-hitter and held a quality UHS lineup in check and then some, striking out nine to lead the way in a 1-0 victory over the Hawks.

“She was very confident in the circle and she was hitting her spots really well and moving the ball around when she needed to,” JMHS coach Ed West said. “She’s known these hitters for a while now. We played them several times this year and last year so she’s starting to know the hitters and where to throw to them.”

University, which won the series opener 4-3 in nine innings, managed only one run over the final two games of the series as it suffered a 7-1 loss Tuesday that forced Wednesday’s battle at JMHS.

After Pettit struck out University pitcher Autumn Stemple with two on to end the top of the first inning, the Monarchs (21-8) scored the game’s lone run in their first trip to the plate.

Paytyn Tucker drew a leadoff walk and stole second before Pettit send a deep fly ball to left field that wasn’t hauled in, resulting in an error on the warning track that enabled Tucker to score.

“A very tight game that was well-pitched and well-played on both sides,” West said in describing the matchup. “We’re fortunate that we got the run we did and we were able to hold on. It was a hard-fought game and I kind of expected that. We went down there last night and beat them 7-1 and we got the bats rolling a little bit. I didn’t really expect that again. I thought it would be a very tight game and it was.”

UHS (17-12) had its second quality scoring chance in the third after Anna Argabrite singled with one out and advanced to second on Meysa Heitmann’s sacrifice bunt. West then elected to intentionally walk No. 3 hitter Lauren Huebsch, and while the move put the go-ahead run on base, it paid off as Pettit struck out Ally Jansen to prevent the Hawks from scoring.

“We gave them a great fight and a great series. I think we earned a little respect. We were the underdogs,” UHS coach Mindy Parks said. “We didn’t string our hits together. Left we people on base twice with first and second and we couldn’t do anything with our big batters in; just couldn’t get them in. We had two opportunities to score and it just didn’t work out for us.”

Stemple retired the Monarchs in order in both the third and fourth innings, before they had two runners in scoring position in the fourth courtesy of an error, base-on-balls and sacrifice bunt.

However, Stemple induced a fly ball to left off the bat of Ryleigh Morgan to end the threat unscathed and keep her team’s deficit at one run.

John Marshall’s first two batters of the fifth reached, including Isabella Linton on a single to center that marked her team’s first and only hit of the contest. With a pair of Monarchs in scoring position and one out, Stemple benefitted from a quality diving catch at first base from Ashlyn Weaver for the second out. Ava Blake drew a walk to load the bases, but Stemple got Pettit to pop out to second to keep it a one-run deficit.

“I thought we were going to get a couple and have a little breathing room, but it didn’t happen, so it just kind of intensified everything those last two innings,” West said.

UHS, however, could muster only one baserunner over the final two innings — Huebsch on a one-out single in the sixth, and they never got anyone in scoring position down the stretch.

Pettit struck out the side in the seventh to seal the victory.

Stemple was equally dominant in the pitching circle despite suffering the defeat. She allowed only one hit and struck out six over six innings.

“Autumn pitched great. She pitched a heck of a game,” Parks said. “The bottom of our lineup really struggled. They’re very young and inexperienced. But we’ll get better. We’ll be fine and we’re glad to be here.”

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