JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley managed a season-high in runs scored in Friday’s Section 3 softball meeting with Butler — not that Claire Zimmerman needed all of that support.
The junior pitcher stifled Butler’s bats, allowing just one hit while striking out six and walking none as the Raiders posted a 10-0, six-inning victory at Raider Field.
It was the second straight outing in which Zimmerman came away with an impressive win. She surrendered just one run on three hits in Thursday’s 7-1 triumph against Pine-Richland.
“I don’t know if it’s the weather turning or what, but after seeing her these last two games, she’s as good if not better than she was last year,” said SV coach George Trew. “She’s looked really good and is keeping hitters off-balance.”
Faith Hansotte’s one-out single in the top of the fourth inning was the lone blemish in Zimmerman’s outing.
“I feel I’m more focused this year,” she said. “I focus in and have more energy on every pitch, but I think the whole team has that same energy.”
Butler’s offense is capable of scoring runs in bunches. The Golden Tornado (2-5, 0-5) have scored at least 10 runs in four of seven games this season, but coach Tina O’Donnell didn’t see the right approach out of her lineup on Friday.
“Our hitters were trying to kill the ball instead of just making contact and putting the ball in play,” she said.
For the first two and a half innings, the game was shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel as Butler’s Ali Graham equaled Zimmerman with keeping the Raiders off the scoreboard while allowing no hits.
Then came the bottom of the third and the Raiders (4-3, 3-2) dropped a bolt of two-out lightning on the Tornado.
With a runner at second base, Graham struck out Julia Ehrman, but the latter reached base when the ball skipped away from Butler catcher Julia Gibson. Mandy Magill then reached on a throwing error, which allowed Morgan Prouty and Ehrman to score.
Karli Hacker doubled in another run and Madison Hans belted a two-run home run for a 5-0 lead. All five runs were unearned.
“It’s like the old saying, don’t give a good team extra outs,” said Trew. “They made some mistakes today and we took advantage of them.”
“I like getting a big lead,” said Zimmerman, “but we want to get ahead and stay ahead. We don’t want to have a lull after scoring and allow the other team to get back in it.”
Three more Butler errors would follow. Only two of SV’s 10 runs were earned. Graham finished the game with six strikeouts and a pair of walks.
“I am ecstatic with how Ali pitched today,” O’Donnell said. “She remained strong out there, even after taking a line drive (off the bat of Prouty) in the third inning.”
SV plated three more runs in the fifth before Kassie Cavanagh’s two-run single with two outs in the sixth ended the game via mercy rule.
Butler 000 000 x — 0 1 4
Seneca Valley 005 032 x — 10 8 0
W: Claire Zimmerman 6 IP (6K, 0BB). L: Ali Graham 5.2 IP (6K, 2BB).
Butler (2-5, 0-5): Faith Hansotte 1B
Seneca Valley (4-3, 3-2): Morgan Aloi 1B R, Julia Ehrman 2-1B 3R, Mandy Magill R RBI, Karli Hacker 2B 2RBI, Madison Hans HR 2RBI, Olivia Madey 1B RBI, Morgan Prouty 1B R, Maura Pasquale R, Brittany Lollo 2R, Kassie Cavanagh 1B 2RBI
Monday: Seneca Valley at Montour
Tuesday: Butler at Penn Hills