By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
KIMBERLY — When freshman pitcher Bailey Murphy is on her game, good things normally happen for Mortimer Jordan.
Murphy was definitely in the zone Tuesday, striking out 16 Mountain Brook batters in a 4-1 victory for the fourth-ranked Blue Devils.
After giving up a lead-off single to Rebecca Blitz that soon became the Spartans’ only run (after two steals and a wild pitch), Murphy went on a tear. She fanned six straight batters in the second and third innings, then five in a row starting in the fourth and ending in the sixth.
Coach Shawn Maze was a little surprised at her season-high strikeout haul, especially considering it was not Murphy’s best effort, in his estimation.
“Not to say that she was off, but I felt like at times she was not where she needed to be,” Maze said. “She’s working on that.”
Natalie Johnsey put the Devils on the board in the second with a run-scoring single that brought home Savannah Crawford. Jordan took the lead for good in the third inning with a pair of runs off a Morgan Cantrell double and a bases-loaded ground-out by Brittany Collier.
Cantrell got another RBI in the fifth after Shelby Maze hit a lead-off double and moved to third base on a passed ball; she scored on Cantrell’s ground out to third.
Taylor Harkins was effective at times in the circle for the Spartans, striking out seven Devils batters and only allowing three hits. She also left six Jordan runners stranded.
The season is hitting the home stretch about now, with crucial area games against No. 6 Hayden and No. 5 Curry coming over the next few days. Maze says he is generally okay with the progress of his Devils’ squad.
“We’re still working through it — we’ll muddle along at times when I think we couldn’t beat anybody, then we go through spurts where we look pretty good,” Maze said. “That’s the thing about softball — it’s all about May and the end of the season, and if we can pull it together and hit a little better, our defense is good and [Murphy’s] in the circle. We have three great teams in our area, and one of them’s not going to come out of it. It should be a great area tournament.”