Harris' No-No Leads Colonials Past Warhill
By David Breidenbach, Correspondent
May 27, 2014, 10:31
Amber Harris capped her dream season with a 4-0 no-hit shutout of Warhill in the opening round of the Conference 25 softball championship. They will play TBD Wednesday at York.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS—Big players come through in big games, and for the Colonials softball team there was no bigger game this season than their opening round match against Warhill in the Conference 25 championship tournament at the Civic Field Monday night.
For Senior Captain Amber Harris, the Colonials pitcher, no time was like the present to notch her first career no-hitter in the teams’ 4-0 shutout in their first round match. Harris had battled back to the mound after not pitching since the end of her middle school career due to a series of serious injuries.
Getting back to the form she had in eighth grade has been a season-long struggle, and picking up a no-no in the opening round of the playoffs has to be a gigantic confidence booster for the senior.
“Huge win. Amber hadn’t had a no-hitter all season; it’s one of those steps along the way to her recovery. For the team, it’s our first playoff win in 10-plus years. We had been in the playoffs one time over that span and lost to Prince George 2-1 in the Central District tournament, Colonials Coach Chris Martin said.
The win boosts the Colonials to 15-5 and drops Warhill to 13-7.
Despite the team collecting three errors during the game, Harris had enough stuff to keep the Lions hitters off kilter, and when they did connect with her pitches the Colonials’ fielders made plays. Harris threw 73 pitches and induced 13 ground outs, and a three infield pop-ups, including two to the catcher, Emily Bartholomew.
“Well I was pretty nervous the whole time. I know I have a bunch of good girls behind me and they supported me the whole game. I know I have a bunch of good girls behind me and they support me all the way through,” Harris said about how well the team played behind her pitching.
At one point it seemed like the Colonials were destined to win the game. In the top of the third inning, Colonials second baseman Makenzie Vrooman ranged toward the first base side to pick up a bouncing grounder that hit off her glove and conveniently rolled directly to Ashley Schoot at first base for the out. In the book, it was scored 4-3, but it was a fortunate bounce and perhaps a bit of foreshadowing for the Colonials.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for the team I have behind me, and I’m also thankful to God who got me back here,” Harris said.
At the plate, the Colonials squandered a chance to get on top in the bottom of the first inning when they loaded the bases with one out but failed to score.
They broke through for what would be the winning run in the bottom of the second inning.
Senior Captain Schoot started things off with a single to right field. A pop-up and strike out gave the Colonials two outs when Senior Captain Savannah Couch stepped to the plate. Sitting on a 2-1 pitch, Couch got just the pitch she was looking for and launched a drive into the gap between left and center field that went to the fence. Schoot chugged around third base, and headed home while Couch bounded into third with a triple.
Savannah Couch high-fives Colonials' head coach Chris Martin following her triple to push the winning run across the plate.
“That (pitch) was exactly what I was looking for. With two outs and a runner on first and I knew we needed to have a big hit,” Couch said. A Lincoln Memorial University prospect, Couch said she did not have the kind of senior year she had hoped to have, and decided to make the playoffs an extra season. She did so with flare, collecting three hits in three at bats on the night, including the RBI triple and an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth that started a three-run rally. With two outs and two on, Bartholomew cracked a two-run double to the green that gave the Colonials an insurmountable 4-0 lead.
Even so, a little adversity gets into every good game. This was no different, as the Lions had a chance to strike back in the top of the fourth inning. Couch mishandled a grounder to the right at shortstop that allowed Bridget Henzel to reach first with no out and the score 1-0 Colonials. Haley Smith executed a perfect suicide squeeze to move Henzel into scoring position at second base.
After a soft liner to short gave the Colonials their second out of the inning, Harris induced a pop-up to first to end the threat.
“That’s the difference, it’s what happens. Things fall your way sometimes and sometimes they don’t. We’re extremely young; I have only two seniors graduating, and three freshmen starting for me and four sophomores,” Warhill coach Meredith Powell said.
The Colonials allowed two other batters to reach base on errors. But both times there were already two outs, and the innings ended on ground outs to Couch at shortstop.
“That’s been the difference for us this year, they haven’t let an error or mistake cost them the inning. This year, they make a mistake and it’s move on. The most important play is the next play.”