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SOFTBALL: James Buchanan blanks Littlestown, 2-0, in pitchers' duel

MERCERSBURG >> In a pitchers' duel, someone has to come out on top.

James Buchanan and Littletown's softball pitchers put on a show in a non-league game Friday afternoon. The pair combined to give up only 10 hits and racked up a total of 22 strikeouts.

But it was the Rockets' Nina Shatzer who came out on the winning side. She fired a four-hit shutout to take down the Lady Bolts, 2-0.

"My defense really had me relaxed on the mound," Shatzer said. "They backed me up on everything, so I knew I could let them put the ball in play, and they would handle it for me."

Although the Rockets (11-0) did play a fine defensive game, they didn't have to do much. Shatzer fanned 12 batters, a career high, and caught four looking for Littlestown (11-3).

"All of her pitches were working pretty well today," JB coach Eric Reed said. "(Catcher) Abbie (Doyka) and her worked very well today, keeping them off balance. Littlestown has a very good hitting team, so to shut them out, Nina pitched a heck of a game."

Shatzer also got the Rockets out of a serious jam late in the game. In the top of the fifth, Littlestown's Kelsie Dews led off with a single, and Jill Gauthier followed with a walk. Shatzer struck out the next batter before Lindsey Snyder popped up to first.

Shelby Dews then made things interesting. After an at-bat that featured nine pitches, Dews found what she was looking for and drove a grounder to third to load the bases.

Littlestown's Michaela Yealy also drove up the pitch count before Shatzer finally retired her with a swinging strikeout to end the threat.

"I was just hoping Nina could make some pitches, and we could make a play," Reed said. "That was the best scenario I could see, and she pulled through."

Shatzer wasn't the only impressive pitcher, though.

Despite taking the loss, McKenzie Somers threw a fine game. She scattered six hits, walked three and struck out 10 of her own.

"She was one of the faster pitchers, so I was kind of excited to see that," JB leadoff batter Brooke Pittman said. "In my opinion, it's easier to hit faster pitchers, and I'm also glad we were able to see her because that's what we're going to get in the postseason."

Pittman was the heroine for the Rockets. In the second inning, Kayla Cummings led off with a bunt hit, and she was moved along by a walk from Cara Bender. Carly Caron then notched a sacrifice bunt to put a pair in scoring position, and Pittman came up and smacked a single to centerfield to plate the Rockets' lone runs of the game.

"(Somers) was very good," Reed said. "She was probably the best pitcher speed-wise that we've seen this year. She mixed the ball around, and she liked to throw a riseball, which we haven't seen a whole lot of. We had trouble adjusting to that, so I felt very fortunate that Brooke came up with that big hit to give us a two-run cushion."

Pittman said, "It was really big, and it's what we needed. We always seem to have at least one good hit in a game to get what we need. I just wanted to continue that and get some momentum going for us."

NOTE >> Littlestown coach Henry Wardrop declined to comment after the game.

James Buchanan 2 Littlestown 0

LittlestownJames BuchananabrhbabrhbSDews cf3010Pittman cf4012MYealy lf3010Fglsngr ss3010Dyson c3000Shatzer p2000KYealy ss3010Kline cr0000Somers p2000Doyka c2010KDews 3b3010CMiller 1b3010BPayne rf1000Piper 2b3000Gauthier rf1000Cumings rf3110Skillman 1b3000Bender 3b2100Snyder 2b2000Caron lf2010DPayne ph1000Totals25040Totals24262

E: Lit 2, JB 2; DP: JB 1; LOB: Lit 6, JB 9; SAC: Caron; SB: D.Payne, Dyson, Fogelsoner, Miller; CS: Caron.

Littlestown pitching

J.Buchanan pitching

PB: Lit 1.

T: 1:53.