Radford pitcher Nikki Brewer threw a four-hitter and led the Bobcats’ 14-hit attack as Radford defeated Eastern Montgomery 11-1 in a five inning Three Rivers District opener for both teams Tuesday afternoon.
Brewer, who flirted with a one-hit shutout, struck out eight straight Mustangs and finished the game with 12 strikeouts while walking none and allowing no earned runs.
“Nikki pitched real well for us today,” said Radford Coach David “Dink” Morris. “We had not played in over a week and when you can get both offense and defense working at the same time in a district opener, it says something about your team.”
Brewer went four-for-four with three runs scored and two runs-batted-in while second baseman Lindsay Graham had three hits including a pair of triples, scoring twice and driving in two runners.
“Graham is capable of that. When she starts, she gets on a roll. It doesn’t matter if she’s our starting second baseman or shortstop. She’s just a good ball player,” said Morris.
Radford’s Madi Shepherd had two hits, stole five bases, and scored twice.
The Bobcats scored at least one run in every inning off Mustang pitcher Erika Rakes, who went the distance.
“We had problems hitting her today,” said Morris. “She throws that real slow stuff and hitters have to be patient at the plate. That’s one of the reasons we attempted to bunt as much as we did. We had practiced bunting in practice. I felt it would be good to see if we could do it against a pitcher who throws it slow.”
Rakes pitched well enough to win. She allowed three earned runs, but her younger teammates let her down in the field.
“We are a very young team,” said Eastern Montgomery Coach Mike Harrison. “We lost five starters from last year’s team. We have four returning players and two subs, which are both starting for us in the outfield. When you only have 10 players, everybody gets to play and everybody makes mistakes and grows from them.”
The Mustangs turned the only double play in the game when shortstop and freshman Anna Combs snagged a line drive and tossed to third baseman Brianna Lewis for the out during the first inning. In the fifth inning, catcher Kayla Wikstrom threw out Brewer who was attempting to steal third base.
In between those two solid plays, the Mustangs misjudged grounders and it allowed the Bobcats to score unearned runs.
“I have told our girls we can play with anybody. We have to match them hit-by-hit. When we do that, our confidence skies and we have a chance to win,” said Harrison.
“This team plays with a lot of heart. I know we can jell and win some games – it is just a matter of time,” he added.
The Mustangs avoided the shutout in the fourth inning when Wikstrom ripped a one-out opposite field triple down the right field line. She would later score on a wild pitch.
The Mustangs threatened to add to their score in the fifth inning. Lewis singled, took second on Radford’s only error, and stole third base. Brewer then had a swinging strikeout, but catcher Britney Myers, who had replaced Heaven Thomas behind the plate, dropped the ball on a called third strike. Lewis attempted to steal home and was surprised to see Myers standing at the plate with ball in her catcher’s mitt. Lewis was tagged out. Combs grounded out to first base to end the game.
Radford 122 24- 11 14 1
East Mont 000 10-1 4 10
Radford-Brewer, Heavens and Myers (5) East Mont.- Rakes and Wikstrom. WP-Brewer. LP-Rakes, HR-none, 3B-Graham (RHS) 2, Wikstrom (EM) 1, 2B-Brewer (RHS). Time of game-1:23