PICKERINGTON — There are times in softball where a pitcher just has a team’s number.
Thursday was one of those occasions.
Portsmouth Notre Dame’s Tori Harr baffled the Danville Blue Devils with an array of off-speed pitches, one-hitting the Devils and leading her team to an 11-1 victory in the Division IV regional semifinals at Pickerington Central High School.
“We just couldn’t hit. I can honestly say, that girl was good,” said Danville coach Mike Beheler. “She mixed up her speeds well. We could not tell if it was a change-up or a fastball. She was pulling that string.
“We just don’t see that that much. We just don’t see a girl with a great, great change-up. You’ve got to give her credit.”
Harr kept the Danville batters tied in knots for the whole game. Only two base runners reached, both in the first inning.
Deanna Parker reached on an error with one out in the top of the first. After a strikeout, Olivia Rice lifted a long fly ball to right field that escaped the reach of Notre Dame’s Jen Arnzen. That double plated Parker and things looked pretty good for the Devils (19-12).
But the wheels fell off in the bottom half of the first inning.
Katie Stevenson reached on an infield single and moved to second on a bunt single by Madi Phillips. Danville then threw the ball away on a double steal attempt, allowing Stevenson to score. The Devils then had Phillips picked off third, but the throw got away again and she ended up scoring. After a walk, Miranda Pauley then smacked a home run to left field for the Titans (19-7).
“We were off-balance at the start. The game is totally different if we play better,” said Beheler. “We had three errors in the first. That home run doesn’t happen if we play better the first four batters.
“We had scored right away, but we let them off the hook.”
The Devils were able to settle down defensively after that, shutting the Titans out the next three innings.
But the bats never came alive. After Rice’s two-out double in the first, Harr retired the next 16 batters in a row.
The Titans got a home run from Brooke Pierron in the fifth, then put the game away with six runs in the sixth. Pierron added a two-run double and Harr had a two-run single for the big hits in the inning.
Danville starter Kat Mickley allowed 10 runs on eight hits, three walks and two hits batsmen in 5 2/3 innings of pitching. Molly Alberts followed in relief, but did not get an out as the Titans invoked the mercy rule.