Bower leads Williamsport past Troy in opener

Troy’s Brooke Mattocks walked back to the dugout shaking her head and searching for answers after striking out against Williamsport pitcher Mikayla Bower. Troy’s lineup continued to search for answers the whole night, but wouldn’t find it with Bower on the mound.

Bower baffled the Troy lineup with an array of pitches with perfect placement as she pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits and one run while striking out 12 in Williamsport’s 2-1 win over Troy on a cold and dreary Friday night at Elm Park in the Williamsport Tournament. Williamsport will play Muncy today in the semifinal.

“I guess under the lights at a night game, I mean I was just completely zoned into the catcher,” said Bower after striking out the 4-5-6 hitters to end the game. “I know that with, they were a great hitting team obviously, they had some long foul balls. So I knew that I had to just move my pitches because I wasn’t going to blow it by any of them.”

Bower ended the game just like she started it, with three straight strikeouts. Despite the tough pitching conditions, Bower never let that get to her and just remained focused on the batter.

“She’s been pitching well all year for us,” said Williamsport coach Quint Bower. “Her and Taylor Brooks have been alternating back and forth. It’s a great lefty-righty combination cause they each bring something and it gives teams different looks from that left and right side. I thought Mikayla really battled tonight, she worked ahead in the count, she had her curveball working and tonight was the first time she really kept that rise ball down.”

After starting 0-5 by a combined nine runs, Williamsport has won four straight and a major reason for the turnaround has been the improved play of the defense. Williamsport had no errors Friday night and made some great plays. Catcher Shataya Buxton made a sliding catch in foul territory when there was a runner on third with just one out in the fifth and shortstop Chloe Jennings and second baseman Tiana McCormick.

“We made more errors in the first five games of the season then this same exact defense made the last two years,” said coach Bower. “Now I understand we had a different pitcher on the mound for two years but still we did not play Williamsport High School softball, we were getting two and three errors a game and you cannot win games having two and three errors a game… In our last four games we have had just one error and that was questionable and now we are back to playing Williamsport High School softball.”

Williamsport received timely hitting from its offense as Taylor Brooks had an one-out double, she then advanced to third on an error. She was followed by Kaitlyn Caringi with a RBI single to give Williamsport a 1-0 lead. Caringi would again have an RBI single in the fifth after a McKenzie Tebbs triple and a Jennings single.

Troy also had strong pitching-catching combination with Freshman pitcher Kerrigan Hoffman throwing six strong innings and senior catcher Kayla Stephani controlling the freshman and helping her along the way.

“I told the girls tonight, Troy was going to be one of the most fundamentally sound teams we played,” said coach Bower. “And Troy is a well-coached team, their defense made every play, their shortstop made some plays on those pop-ups that were looking into the rain. They made every play we put our bat on.”

Troy 000 010 0- 1 3 1

Williamsport 001 010 x- 2 7 0

Kerrigan Hoffman and Kayla Stephani. Mikayla Bower and Shataya Buxton. W- Bower. L- Hoffman. Hoffman- 6IP, K, 2 BB, 7 H, 2 R. Bower- 7IP, 12 K, 3 H, 1 R.

Top Troy hitters: Faith Ceely 1-3; Brooke Mattocks 1-3 run; Brooke Losey-Root 1-2 3B, RBI.

Top Williamsport hitters: Taylor Brooks 1-2 2B, run; Kaitlyn Caringi 3-3 2 RBI; McKenzie Tebbs 1-2 3B, run; Chloe Jennings 1-2; Samantha Fischer 1-2.

Record: Williamsport (4-5)

Next: Williamsport vs. Muncy (Today 10)