TURBOTVILLE - Warrior Run's Taylor Parker and her father, Bill, jogged from the Defenders' dugout to a spot perpendicular to the right-field fence on several occasions before and during Friday's game against South Williamsport. The senior pitcher was likely trying to stay loose during a warmer, but still chilly, day as her offense provided her with some extended innings.
The casual jogs didn't last past the fifth inning and neither have many Defenders' opponents this season.
Warrior Run defeated the Mounties, 11-0 in five innings, the third time in four games this season the Defenders ended a game via the mercy rule. During their 4-0 start overall and in the HAC-II, the returning PIAA Class AA runner-up has outscored its opponents, 59-8, and has played just 20 innings during the stretch. The lone team to extend the Defenders to seven innings and score against them was Central Columbia - a 13-8 Warrior Run victory.
"Every day we try and keep them focused and we only care about one game at a time," Warrior Run head coach Garth Watson said. "In the Heartland two they understand you are going to get beat if you're not on your A-game, so it was nice to come out (Friday) against a good team like that and get up on them early and keep our foot on the gas."
Watson reminds his team of its difficult schedule and hopes that keeps it from becoming complacent. He will have plenty of ammo over the next two weeks, as Warrior Run will play defending PIAA Class A runner-up Southern Columbia, Class AAA Mifflinburg, a team that defeated Warrior Run twice last year with ace pitcher Ali Lloyd who will join Warrior Run's Taylor Parker at Bloomsburg University, and a Loyalsock team that could contend for the HAC-II title.
So far it appears Watson's players are heeding his advice.
"We just do our best and go out and clear our heads and start fresh each game," said Warrior Run center fielder Gabby Shrawder, who scored twice from her leadoff spot yesterday.
A four-run Warrior Run first inning yesterday started with a Shrawder line drive to right field that went in and out of a South Williamsport glove. Devin Nicholas followed with a liner that whistled over the head of South first baseman Alana Stugart before she could react and went down the foul line before running out of play for a ground-rule double. Clean-up hitter Jackie Clemens found the other foul line after Parker reached on an error, slicing a double to left that scored two. Clemens came around to score on a Lynn Vermilya groundout for a 4-0 lead.
"When you dig yourself a hole like that it's pretty tough to come back against a team like that," South Williamsport coach Scott Stugart said. "I was pleased with the way we settled down later on in the game and started battling them a little bit pitch by pitch and out by out."
Stugart's words were proven true by his hitters. After striking out six times over the first two innings, South Williamsport (2-2) did make more contact in the final three innings and struck out just two more times. Few balls, however, were hit hard as Parker recorded her third shutout in four games.
"She's the best," Stugart said. "That's what you want to get measured by. We have some work to do, but I like where we are at."
The senior right-hander struck out eight and walked three in five innings. Three Mounties advanced into scoring position, including Kelsey Gantz who reached third base in the second inning before being stranded.
Sarah March had the lone South Williamsport hit - a wind-blown double to left field that Warrior Run's Katy Swartz battled before it fell out of her reach.
Warrior Run finished with 11 hits and received some help with four South Williamsport errors. Parker finished 2 for 3 and cleared the bases with a triple in the second inning that made it 7-0 Warrior Run before a Swartz RBI single made it 8-0.
The Defenders try for a fifth consecutive win today when they host Montgomery in a make-up game. The Mounties, who have played two PIAA runners-up in their first four games, will host Canton on Monday as part of a four-game week.
Warrior Run 11,
South Williamsport 0
South Williamsport000 00 - 0 1 4
Warrior Run 440 3x - 11 11 1
Anna Steer and Sarah March. Taylor Parker and Lynn Vermilya. WP - Parker. LP - Steer.
Top South hitter: Sarah March 2B. Top Warrior Run hitters: Devin Nicholas 2-3, 2B, 2 runs, RBI; Taylor Parker 2-3, 3B, 3 runs, 3 RBIs; Jackie Clemens 2B, 2 RBIs; Laura Bastian 2-2, run, RBI.
Records: Warrior Run 4-0, 4-0 HAC-II; South Williamsport 2-2, 2-2 HAC-II. Next: Warrior Run vs. Montgomery, today; South vs. Canton, Mon.