Long Reach senior pitcher Kristin Schaper struck out 11 of the first 12 Howard hitters she faced en route to a one-hit, 14-strikeout performance that carried the unbeaten Lightning to a 7-0 victory yesterday at Howard.
"This is the best game she's ever pitched," said Long Reach coach Chuck Struhar. "She was overpowering."
Schaper, who had a career-best 15 strikeouts when she no-hit Howard in a 2-0 victory two years ago, retired the first 13 batters before giving up a one-out walk in the fifth. The only hit against her came in the sixth on Kim Palmer's two-out infield grounder on whichSchaper almost made a play.
Schaper threw hard from the start.
"They couldn't catch up to her," said Long Reach catcher Lauren Vint.
Added Struhar: "She has a real quick delivery. The ball gets there so fast that you don't have a lot of time to react."
There were times when Howard hitters helped Schaper, swinging at risers that were above their shoulder. But hitting against Schaper, who has 40 strikeouts in 33 innings, is easier said thandone.
"Her ball was moving," said Howard's Lindsey Hasiuk. "I think everyone was a little intimated. We didn't have any confidence."
Long Reach (6-0) had nine hits, three in the third inning when itrallied with two outs and none on. Ashley Naimaster singled and went to third on Schaper's double to the left-field fence. Howard (4-2) couldn't make a play on Keri Filipowicz's slow grounder between the mound and third base, and Naimaster scored. On the next play, Howard catcher Tracy Shannon tried to pick off Amer Haney, who was running for Schaper, at third. The ball went off Kristina Dronenberg's glove and into left field and Haney scored.
Long Reach rallied again with two outs in the sixth, and got RBI singles from Rachel Jordan, Tina Rezaiyan and Corinne Leith to take a 5-0 advantage.
Schaper began to tire in the fifth, and walked three batters to load the bases. She was more unhappy about the walks than happy about the 14 strikeouts.
"I'm trying to cut my walks in half," said Schaper, who had 169 strikeouts and 55 walks last season. "One walk is fine, but three in a row [she actually had two straight]. I don't like that."