Pitchers hear it all the time. “Help yourself” (while at the plate).
Rarely are they able, but such was not the case for Courtney Walker Tuesday at Northside. With the count 1-0, the Warner Robins senior took a pitch down the heart of the plate and laced it over the leftfield fence.
It was not only the game-winner, coming in the top of the seventh, but also the game’s only run.
That’s because Walker and Lady Eagles starting pitcher Cassidy Ruffin, up until that point, were locked in the proverbial “pitcher’s duel”.
In fact, Walker’s hit was only the second of the game for the Demonettes and Ruffin even had a no-hitter through five.
That isn’t to say Warner Robins didn’t have several batters hit the ball on the nose – three previous hit it somewhat deep into the outfield and 10 others at least put it into play in the infield – it’s just that Northside’s defense was up to the task. In fact, the Lady Eagles were perfect in the field.
Brianna Dollar provided the other aforementioned second hit. There were also no walks by either pitcher. Dollar’s hit came via a bunt down the third-base line in which she outran the throw to first. She was later called out for leaving the bag too soon, however.
Still, she was “money” – probably not the last time you’ll hear that this year – at third. In fact, she recorded eight outs, to include a game ending double play on a bunt popup/throw to first to catch the runner before she was able to dive back.
Walker and Ruffin each ended the night with six strikeouts.
As far as Northside, its fate was sealed mainly by stranding runners. The Lady Eagles left two on in the first, one on in the fourth, two on in the fifth and finally, one on in the sixth.
In the first that was Stephanie Ruffin and Cassidy. The first, with an out in the book, reached on an infield single. Cassidy got jammed but managed to fight it off for a soft single to right. The next two, however, were fanned.
Cassidy led off the fourth with a double but was stranded at third.
Ashley Bennett reached on an error in the fourth with an out. She made it to third on Allie Cohen’s infield single and then Cohen took second without a throw, but both of them were left on base. Finally, Cassidy again reach base on an error in the sixth. The next hitter struck out. The third hit it deep enough to left for Cassidy to tag and the fourth became a victim of Dollar.