KIMBERLY — Freshman Sharley Miller pitched a complete game, striking out eight batters as she paced fifth-ranked Hayden to a 3-0 victory over No. 7 Curry in the championship game of the Class 5A Area 12 softball tournament at Mortimer Jordan on Friday.
It’s the first time that the Wildcats have won an area title since the current playoff format was introduced in 2007, and the only time that the Blue Devils haven’t been the champs. They were eliminated by the Yellow Jackets in the day’s first game, losing by a 2-0 score.
Miller, the Wildcats’ third pitcher who generally didn’t go the distance in the regular season, was in top form. Coach John Simmons had planned to let Miller go about three innings or so, then relieve her with ace Caitlin Kirkland. But after just one hit and one walk through four innings, Simmons decided to let her go as far as she could — which turned out to be the entire game.
“We’ve been letting her go a little longer in a couple of tournaments, letting her go through the order one time against some really good teams,” Simmons said. “We decided to just let her go and see how it went, and she stayed strong and kept them off balance with her pitches.”
The Wildcat batters also had a good day against Curry ace Holli McGinnis. Catcher Madalyn McMickin led off the second inning with a solo homer to left field; later in the inning, Kayla Byrd reached on an error and scored on another.
Left fielder Nikki Witt scored the other Wildcat run in the fourth when she got on base with a walk, then came around on a double by Madison McMickin.
The only real problem with Hayden’s game was base running. Runners were thrown out five times on running mistakes, including a pickoff at first.