Emily Harkleroad is just freshman at Silverdale Baptist Academy, but she certainly doesn't pitch like one.
Entering the circle at Warner Park on Thursday afternoon in one of her team's biggest games of the season so far, Harkleroad pitched like a seasoned veteran. Even at times when the opposing CSAS Lady Patriots had runners on base and were threatening to score, the steady ninth grader never batted an eye.
As a result, the Lady Seahawks are alone at the top of the District 5-A softball standings following their 5-1 victory over the Lady Patriots. Silverdale improves to 13-4 overall and 3-0 in 5-A while CSAS is now 5-4 overall and 3-1 in district play.
Harkleroad certainly wasn't overpowering, but she was in complete control. She finished with a complete game and her ninth victory in 11 decisions after scattering five hits and walking three. She finishedwith six strikeouts and allowed one run.
"This was a big game for my team, but everyone came through and did what they were supposed to do," the soft-spoken hurler said after the game was over.
"The key was that I was able to hit my spots as I felt good out there. I didn't hit the ball very well, but I think it may have been one of my better games pitching. I did my job," she added.
The Lady Seahawks scored first with two runs in the third inning before making it 3-0 with another run in the fifth. Two unearned runs in the sixth was more than enough as the Lady Patriots scored their only run in the bottom of the sixth to avoid a shutout.
"I thought we played hard today, but we just want to make sure we're playing our best softball when the district tournament starts on May 5," said Silverdale coach Tim Couch.
"We knew it would be a battle as they have a great team, but Emily pitched a great game, we had a few key hits and we were able to take advantage of some of their mistakes. Emily is a tough kid who never backs down from anyone. And I thought that we played pretty good defense behind her," the veteran coach added.
While Couch appeared to be happy with the way his team played, the same wasn't the case for CSAS coach Kaitlin Holloway as she had some pretty direct and to-the-point comments for her team afterward.
"I don't think you want to know what I just said to them, but we're not making adjustments. Until we learn how to do that in critical games like this, we'll keep getting results like we got today," Holloway began.
"We didn't get any key hits and we made too many errors. Silverdale has a great team and they'll make you pay for stuff like that, but we didn't play our game and that was the difference," she added.
Shortstop Taylor Moran, one of three Silverdale players with two hits, had the first big blow with a two-run double in the third. Allison Meadows and Sloane Woodard both reached on infield hits before Moran ripped a liner just over second base that rolled all the way to the fence as Meadows and Woodard scampered home with the first two runs of the game.
Meadows singled again in the fifth, went to second on a fielder's choice before going to third on another hit by Moran. Lindsey Newell's grounder to second drove in Meadows to make it 3-0.
The Lady Patriots then made two of their three errors in the sixth as the Lady Seahawks added their last two runs. Elise Pearson ripped a one-out single and later scored on an infield error while Skyler Parton reached on that same miscue and later scored on a dropped fly in left.
Victoria Blanton led off the CSAS sixth with a triple and she scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Kiera Suttles, but Harkleroad never got rattled and ended the inning on a strikeout despite allowing a single to Britney Patmon and a walk to Jamani Greer.
Harkleroad then retired the side in order in the seventh to end the game.
Meadows, Moran and Pearson all had two hits to lead the Lady Seahawks while Woodard had one.
Briana Taylor had a double in the first for CSAS while Greer and Angela Petulla both had singles in the second. The only other hit for the Lady Patriots was the single by Patman in the sixth.
While Harkleroad was the winning pitcher, Taylor took the loss for the Lady Patriots after allowing five runs on seven hits while allowing two walks. She also had six strikeouts.
SILVERDALE 002 012 0 -- 5 7 0
ARTS & SCIENCE 000 001 0 -- 1 5 3
Harkleroad and Hancock; Taylor and Suttles.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)