Murray • It was the first inning, and Murray starter Elise Johnson was already struggling. There was one out, the bases were loaded and Skyline’s leading home run hitter Kristin Tatum was at the plate.
But coach Lisa Parker wasn’t about to yank her ace.
“One of my assistants asked if we should have a pitching change, and I said, ‘No, we’ll leave her in,’” Parker said. “She’s a trooper, and she did a great job under pressure tonight.”
The early faith in Johnson paid off for the Spartans, as her pitching helped lead them to a 3-0 shutout of the Eagles that keeps Murray in the driver’s seat of the Region 7 softball standings. Some early runs gave the Spartans the advantage, and they held onto it with nearly immaculate defense.
In four innings, Skyline managed to get runners on second and third, but never could finish the job. From the first inning when an Eagles rally fizzled with bases loaded, to the last inning when Tatum grounded out to end the match-up, Murray managed to keep them at arm’s length with error-free softball.
Johnson pitched a complete game, striking out only three but getting another six out with her glove. Skyline got seven hits on the day, but many of the balls they knocked into play found their way safely into Spartan mitts.
“I was having some trouble getting the corner early, but I just had to take a deep breath and have confidence in our defense,” Johnson said. “I throw for mostly ground balls, and I know those guys will pick them up.”
On offense, Murray got five of its seven hits in the first three innings, blitzing starter Hailey Jensen early. Krysta Woolley came through as a last-minute fill-in, slamming an RBI single in the first before Johnson batted her home on a double.
Jensen and the Eagles defense settled, but not before Lauren Bell scored in the third inning off a single by Echo Lee. The Spartans also ran the bases efficiently, ending up with three steals.
Spartans stay perfect in Region 7
Starter Elise Johnson leads the shutout effort with three strikeouts and six putouts.
Krysta Woolley fills in for an injured teammate, finishing 2-for-3 at the plate.
Skyline leaves 11 runners on base, nine in scoring position.