MANCHESTER — Manchester Valley had yet to register any hits when Kassidy Johnson stepped to the plate in the fourth inning.
The Mavericks had one out when Johnson laced a double down the right-field line that garnered cheers from the host team’s dugout. Senior pitcher Stephanie Barksdale said that hit sparked the Mavs in defeating Century 4-1 on Wednesday.
The Mavericks (6-2, 5-0 in the Carroll County Athletic League) swept their regular-season series against the Knights to remain undefeated in county play.
Barksdale, who struck out 12 batters, said the team’s bond this year has been monumental and they continuously try to keep one another energized to come out with crucial victories. Jacquelyn Gouge and Taylor Knatz each hit triples for the Mavericks, and Gouge and Johnson notched RBIs as well.
“I know it was really competitive today and their pitcher had us,” said Barksdale, referring to Century’s Hannah Zabik (three strikeouts). “We struggle with slow pitching but we pulled it out of there. I was really proud of them and the way we battled.”
Barksdale struck out six Century batters through the first four innings and kept the game scoreless until Johnson hit her double. Gouge’s triple to right brought Johnson in to score, and the Mavericks carried a one-run lead into the fifth inning.
Zabik led off the fifth with a single for the Knights, but the visiting team couldn’t get its momentum going. Knatz tripled to start the sixth inning for Man Valley and Johnson’s single sent Knatz home to score.
Gouge and Kayleigh Ralph each singled for the Mavericks and pinch-hitter Jenna Miller’s fly ball to right field brought Gouge in to make it 4-0.
Gina Martin singled to give the Knights some rhythm in the seventh inning, and later scored on an error to help Century (4-6, 4-4) avoid the shutout. Knights coach Stephanie Haines said the team’s resiliency has been positive, but the girls have shown a lull in starting their games off strong.
“I feel like the county the last two years has been really hit-or-miss with the talent and honestly what team from either side is going to come out that day,” Haines said. “We saw that against Liberty on Friday and Manchester Valley always gives us a tough game every time. The expectations are still there, it’s just a matter of who is going to come out to play ball that day so across the county that seems to be the case.”
Barksdale normally split pitching duties in a rotation of three over the last few seasons, but has emerged as the Mavericks’ go-to pitcher this season. She praised her teammates for keeping her composed.
“If I’m not throwing a good game they’ll all come in and be like, ‘Hey, we know you’re better than this,’” Barksdale said, with a smile. “It just really gets me there.”
Gerstell is are moving into the MIAA A Conference, the league's highest level of play, for 2019-20. The league’s competition committee, which permits league movement for the various participating sports every two years, last month approved Gerstell’s switch to the A Conference.