West sophomore hurler continues to dominate with fourth shutout win
Published 12:13 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019
The start of the season for West Stanly sophomore Jordan Hatch has been a strong one. Hatch entered Tuesday’s non-conference game against North Stanly having not allowed a run in 19 innings.
Hatch matched up on the mound with Comets junior Merris Talbert, who as a freshman was part of the Comets’ 1A state title team in 2017.
Outdueling Talbert and others from the North bullpen, Hatch continued her torrid start to the season in an 10-0 six-inning win for the Colts (4-0).
Hatch, who was recruited by NCAA Div. I schools like Duke even as a freshman, to where she is still verbally committed, continued her strong start to the season, limiting the Comets (2-1) to three hits, striking out 12 in shutting out North for the game.
With those six innings in Tuesday’s win, she has thrown 25 consecutive innings of shutout softball, with no walks and 50 strikeouts in only four games.
West coach Craig Carter said Hatch has been “phenomenal,” adding “when you got her on the mound as a coach you definitely feel comfortable.”
In Tuesday’s game, Hatch struck out seven of the first eight North batters before Mimi Selke singled to left.
The scoreless streak was threatened at two points in the game by the Comets. A leadoff double in the fourth by Talbert went by the wayside when Meredith Harwood corralled a pop fly in foul territory behind first base, turned and threw out a runner at home.
Another came with a one-out triple in the sixth from Selke, who never got past third after the Colts’ defense got a leaping catch on a line drive at second from Megan Stockton and a groundout to end the threat.
“I just want to make sure we put a good defense behind her,” Carter said. “Losing the players we lost last year was a blow. Filling their shoes, so far we have done that. I think our bats are lacking a little bit as far as runs, but we’re scratching and clawing.”
Hatch credited the defensive effort of West, saying “they were the reason, making plays in the field, that kept the runners from scoring.”
Defensively, Carter said he “stays on (the players) pretty hard…I want them to be ready to go at all times. I want them to be on their toes. I want them to be ready for the ball.”
The scoreless tie was broken in the bottom of the fourth when the Colts got two runners on with a single and a long at-bat from Harwood, who fouled off 13 pitches and drew a walk. A fielding error at third by North allowed one run to score then Morgan Edwards added a two-RBI double with two outs later in the inning to put West up 3-0.
The Colts offense added seven runs off two relievers, Callie Parker and Payton Landis, over the next two innings. Stockton scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth to invoke the 10-run rule.
The start for West, along with her strong efforts on the mound, Hatch said, stems from the way last season ended. In 2017, the Colts, ranked among the best in the state in 2A, were upset in the fourth round by the off-speed pitching of Bunker Hill, 2-1.
“Last season didn’t end how we wanted. (We are) just trying to come back stronger,” Hatch said. “We thought we were going all the way and then just got stopped. It was really disappointing.”
With the high expectations for herself and for the team, Hatch said she only plays full-time softball in the spring and summer months, taking the majority of the fall months off from travel ball season.
“We have a lot of returning players. I think we have a lot of potential like last year,” Hatch said, noting the team’s offense has struggled a little early in the season trying to fill spots at the top of the lineup from players who graduated.
“If we work it out, we can get it back,” Hatch said. “Scoring runs is the team. I’m just trying to help on the field…scoring a lot of runs is a team effort.”
Regarding Hatch, Carter said her best quality is her work ethic, adding “she tries to prepare herself; she understands the game…I can’t take any of the credit for that. She has worked her tail off to get where she is right now. She’s doing a fantastic job and I’m grateful to have her.”
Playing in cold conditions is not easy, Carter added, saying Hatch may get better as the temperatures get warmer.
“She just knows how to step it up…I trust her wholeheartedly on the mound.”
Sports Editor Charles Curcio can be reached via email at email@example.com, 704-983-1361 or via Twitter (@charles_curcio).