EVERETT — Archbishop Murphy sophomore pitcher Baylee Robertson wasn’t perfect on Friday, but she wasn’t far from it.
Robertson gave up one run and just two hits while striking out 10 to lead the Wildcats to a 2-1 Cascade Conference victory over Sultan on Friday.
“It’s probably one of the best games she’s had so far this year,” Archbishop Murphy head coach Stephanie Harmon said. “She’s just solid and strong right now. She’s got a great defense behind her, but she helps us out tremendously on the mound.
Robertson had little room for error. Her counterpart in the pitcher’s circle for the Turks, sophomore Shelby Jeffries gave up two runs on just three hits and struck out eight.
It was a pivotal win for the Wildcats (3-2 league, 4-2 overall), who drew even with the Turks (3-2, 4-2) for second place in the league standings rather than falling two games behind as the teams finish the first third of league play.
“This was huge,” Harmon said. “Especially going through that first-round (of games against league opponents), you want to be as high as you can going into the second-round of play.”
Robertson gave up an RBI-double to Rachel Kirkpatrick in the first inning that gave the Turks a 1-0 lead, but retired 15 of the next 16 batters. Sultan’s Courtney Morris was the only baserunner in that span and she reached on an error.
The Wildcats’ offense gave Robertson all the help she needed in the bottom of the third inning, scoring two runs on two hits. Gemma Miller accounted for both runs with with single to left field and the Wildcats claimed a 2-1 lead. It was the final hit for the Wildcats in the game, but it proved to be enough.
“We didn’t have very many hits today, but we are a good team that can hit the ball,” Harmon said. “If we just wait for those good strikes to come through, we will be able to (hit).”
The way both pitchers were going, the Wildcats one-run lead seemed larger, but Harmon never felt comfortable.
“I’d rather have it be more than a 2-1 lead,” Harmon said. “With (the Turks) you never know. They’ve been a strong team this year. They’ve come out and started out strong, so definitely a 2-1 lead is not comfortable for me against them, or any other team in the league for that matter.”
After Miller’s single, neither team recorded another hit until the Turks were down to their final three outs in the top of the seventh inning.
Robertson struck out Kirkpatrick to lead off the inning — the 16th Sultan batter she retired of the last 17 she faced — before the Turks made it interesting.
With one out, Jeffries became the Turks first baserunner since Morris reached on the error in the top of the fourth. Lexi O’Brien followed with a bunt-single to give Sultan runners on first and second just one out.
Robertson had seen enough.
The final two batters didn’t even make contact on six of the final seven pitches as Robertson struck out both to end the game.
“I feel like pressure really helps me to lock in and make sure I pitch better,” Robertson said. “It’s always good being under pressure because then I really focus on where I’m pitching. I was just really thinking about keeping it off the plate and making sure I could get it on the ground if they do get hits.”
Though the loss was disappointing for the Turks, it was just their second of the season and they have held a lead in every game they’ve played this year.
“It’s definitely a missed opportunity for us,” MacDicken said. “A win would have been nice here, but we’ve got a lot of the season left and I know what the girls are capable of. They know what they’re capable of.”
At Archbishop Murphy H.S.
Baylee Robertson and Alyson Matriotti. Shelby Jeffries and Rachel Kirkpatrick. WP—Robertson. LP—Jeffries. 2B—Kirkpatrick (S). Records—Sultan 3-2 league, 4-2 overall. Archbishop Murphy 3-2, 4-2.