Softball: Catamounts eliminated at National Championship

Brake breaks Potomac State, 6-0

MIKE MATHEWS MMATHEWS@TIMES-NEWS.COM | Posted: Friday, May 15, 2015 6:45 am

CLINTON, Miss. — Alex Brake stopped Potomac State’s season in a big way, allowing just one baserunner in a dominating no-hitter as Labette (Kan.) Community College eliminated the Catamounts from the Division II National Tournament with a 6-0 victory Thursday afternoon.

Brake, a freshman, struck out 14 batters without issuing a walk and would have had a perfect game if not for a fifth-inning infield error.

Brake raised her personal record to 22-6 and lowered her earned run averaged to 1.39 with the win. She has 274 strikeouts and only 34 walks in 201 innings pitched.

Brake had allowed seven hits and five runs in six innings in a 5-0 first-round loss to Kankakee (Ill.) on Wednesday.

“Being here in the national tournament was a learning experience, but I really never thought we’d get no-hit because of the way we hit against Phoenix (a 9-2 loss) in the first round,’’ said Potomac State coach Jim Walton. “But she is a real nice pitcher.

“We got down early. They had a good first inning in the field and had two strikeouts, and we had a bad first inning with three walks and gave up three runs. It hurt our confidence.”

Two of the three Labette batters who drew first-inning walks scored. Sam Bonner had an RBI single, and the other two runs scored on a suicide squeeze bunt. A baserunner from third scored on the bunt, and the runner on second did too, breaking on the bunt, not stopping and beating a throw home after Potomac State got the out at first.

“They have a very fast team, and the girl who scored from second (Katy Taylor) has 89 stolen bases,’’ Walton said. “We recovered from that inning, made some nice defensive plays and held them scoreless until the fifth inning.”

While the Cats kept it at 3-0, their bats never got going against Brake. The only baserunner was Beth Cook, who reached on an infield error in leading off the fifth inning. Chelsea Shepherd bunted her to second but Brake retired the next two hitters on strikes.

Ali Gatc and Taylor had two singles, and Gatc two RBIs, for Labette, which had six hits but also received eight bases on balls from Potomac State pitchers. A three-run fifth boosted the score to 6-0.

Potomac State finished the season with a 28-12 record. It was the Catamounts’ first trip to the national tournament, where they lost to fourth-ranked Phoenix and 16th-ranked Labette.

“We have a good team, and the four sophomores — Whitley Mongan, Sam Hoban, Shayna Vetter and Mariah Martin — really showed a lot of leadership in getting us here,’’ said Walton.

“We really came a long way because last year, when those four were freshmen, we started the season 0-8 at Myrtle Beach. We recovered from that for a respectable season and they led us with their leadership this year. Hopefully we can continue this next year with the freshmen that we have and the experience they have gained.”

Potomac State had 13 freshmen on this year’s team, including Kendall Keplinger, who won the Home Run Derby at the national tournament.