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Brownstown outlasts Lady Cats in nine

North Harrison’s Charissa Brooks and Brownstown’s Jessica Smith staged a nine-inning pitchers’ duel Thursday afternoon before the Lady Cats made a pair of miscues in the final inning to allow the Lady Braves a no-hit, 1-0 victory.
‘Yeah, that killed us,’ North Harrison coach Ron Mitchell said of his team’s two errors in the top of the ninth that allowed Brownstown to score. ‘I don’t know what caused that, to be honest about it. They kept their focus pretty good all eight innings, then that last inning they just blew it.’
No base runner advanced past second base during the first eight innings. North Harrison managed only two base runners for the game, those on walks in the eighth and ninth innings. Neither of those runners, however, got any further.
Brownstown, which improved its record to 16-2, managed base runners in the fourth, sixth and eighth innings on hits but failed to score. The Lady Braves got two runners on with walks in the first and ninth innings and two more on North errors in the seventh and ninth.
‘Defensively they’re pretty good,’ Mitchell said of Brownstown, who has eight seniors. ‘They’ve played together all four years. It just came down to who could stay focused the longest and we didn’t.’
The game looked like it was going to go on forever until the top of the ninth inning when both teams began showing signs of weariness. Smith got to first on a Lady Cat error in center field. With Jessica Bryant at bat, Smith stole second and North Harrison’s throw went into center field. Smith broke for third and then home, scoring what would be the only run of the game.
‘There were little pop flies we should have caught,’ Mitchell said. ‘They were easy catches. That’s from just standing there and losing focus. We let one squirt through the legs and scored the Smith girl. The error scored her.’
North Harrison managed one base runner in the bottom of the inning, when Brooke Allberry walked, but the Lady Cats got no further.
‘They did a good job,’ Mitchell said of his team’s overall effort. ‘They stayed focused the whole time. That’s what we keep trying to holler at them now, to stay focused and don’t blow it that one inning. We just lost it.
‘I told them not to hang their heads. I thought they played a good game up until that point. We were even starting to put the bat on the ball. The Smith girl was getting tired, too. They made the defensive plays they needed to and we didn’t. That’s what it amounted to.’
Brownstown’s Smith struck out 15 Lady Cat batters and walked just two in the no-hitter. North’s Brooks struck out seven Lady Braves and also walked just two.
‘I thought Brooks did an outstanding job pitching,’ Mitchell said of the senior. ‘That’s the best game she’s pitched. She was focused. We had a little problem when we played Eastern, and I got on her pretty good. She’s been good ever since. She’s as tough of a pitcher as anybody, if she puts her mind to it. As long as she stays in the game, we can play and beat anybody. She didn’t even look like she was getting tired really. She was still throwing hard. The defense let her down.’
Despite the loss, Mitchell said he was glad to see a game like this to simulate the same kind of atmosphere found in the sectional.
‘I told them the other night, that’s what we’re going to be focusing on the next four or five games, getting ready for the sectional,’ he said.
‘We’ve got Silver Creek the first game. If we can keep mentally ready and Brooks can keep pitching like that, we’ll be pretty good. We just need to get the bat on the ball.’
‘We’ll try to build on this game. We played good for seven or eight innings,’ he said. ‘This is what you build on right here. They realize they can do it now. Hopefully, they’ll keep doing it.’