By Maurice Patton
COLUMBIA – In keeping with the cliché that good pitching beats good hitting, a hot Zion Christian offense came to a screeching halt Wednesday when faced with Columbia Academy’s Averi Slaughter in the circle.
The junior retired 11 straight batters to start the contest and wound up throwing a 12-strikeout two-hitter over five innings, as her offensive mates scored early and often in an 11-0 Division II-A District 3 road victory.
“The last few teams we’ve faced, we hadn’t seen very good pitching,” Zion Christian coach Russ Adcox said after the loss. “She’s a good little pitcher. We didn’t catch up to it very well. I don’t think she was throwing a lot of ‘heat’; the pitching we’d seen lately was slower – but, she moves it around.
“She’s a good little pitcher.”
And that’s what it took to slow down a Lady Eagle attack that has scored 10-plus runs in half of its 20 outings – including its four most recent games prior to Wednesday.
“Averi did a good job of throwing strikes and hitting spots,” CA coach Seth Anderson said as the Lady Bulldogs improved to 26-2 and stayed perfect through seven district contests. “She’s done a good job for us all year.
“When Journey (Mitchell) or Averi is pitching, if we can get an early lead, we feel pretty confident.”
Four batters into the game, that was the case, as Myleah Hardy gave the visitors a 2-0 cushion with a two-out, two-run home run to straightaway center field – her 11th of the season and second in as many days.
“Myleah’s been hitting the ball really well lately,” Anderson said. “She went through a little slump a couple of weeks ago, but credit her for continuing to work and working her way out of it. The results, you can see.”
CA doubled the lead in the third inning, added another run in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Abbigail Adkins and Karli Quillin, then sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth with six of those scoring off Zion starter Ashleia Coble.
The Lady Bulldogs have hardly been slouches offensively. Wednesday marked the 10th time they scored in double digits, following Tuesday’s 13-0 district victory over Battle Ground Academy in which they slugged five homers – Hardy, plus two each from Adkins and Tori Duval.
“We had five against BGA. That gave us a little momentum,” Anderson said. “Hopefully we can carry that over the next few weeks.”
Becca Hazard – who hit for the cycle in Zion’s 16-6 win Tuesday over Grace Christian – and Claire Boyd had the two hits for the Lady Eagles (12-8, 6-3).
“It felt like we give up too easily,” Hazard said. “We make a mistake, and we get down on ourselves too easily. We’ve got to work together better as a team and pick each other up.”
Zion resumes play Friday at the Walking Horse Classic in Unionville, facing Cannon County and East Hickman. Columbia Academy takes on visiting Grace Christian in league play Thursday.
Columbia Acad. 11, Zion Chr. 0 (5 inn.)
C 202 16 – 11 12 0
Z 000 00 – 0 2 2
Averi Slaughter and Laney Turner, Carolina Johnson (5). Ashleia Coble and Becca Hazard. W: Slaughter. L: Coble. HR: Columbia Acad. – Myleah Hardy (11).