AFTON — You can’t make mistakes against Afton.
A walk and an error in the first inning yielded two runs, and that was all the Crimson Knights needed to successfully defend their Midstate Athletic Conference softball championship Thursday.
That’s because Tanya Hatton was in the circle as the junior pitcher struck out 15 and walked two in a one-hitter that helped top-seeded Afton to an 8-0 victory over No. 2 seed Hancock.
“We made good contact and put the ball in play,” said Afton coach Cindy Bostelman, whose team finished with five hits and took advantage of five Hancock errors. “We hit very well today.”
Hatton pitched even better, taking a perfect game into the sixth inning before walking No. 9 hitter Natasha Picozzi with two out. Picozzi stole second but stayed there as Hatton got Caitlin Wormuth to ground out to second.
Hatton’s no-hit bid in her first start of the season ended with the leadoff batter in the seventh as Lea Newman singled. Newman then stole second and, after Brooke Sherburne drew a walk, both runners stole to put runners at second and third.
Hatton struck out the next three batters to end it.
“I was very excited about our performance,” said Hatton, who struck out the side in the third and fourth innings. “My communication with (catcher) Bailey Sherman was great.”
Sherman opened the scoring in the first inning after drawing a one-out walk. She moved to second on Payton Cutting’s single to right field, took third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a throwing error by losing pitcher Newman. Shawna Stevens followed with an RBI groundout to first base to give Afton a 2-0 lead against Newman, who walked six and struck out three.
Sherman tripled to lead off the bottom of the third, marking the game’s only extra-base hit. She scored on Cutting’s deep sacrifice fly to center field.