Knights roar past Spartans

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Jim Franz/Beloit Daily News Beloit Memorial's Ariana Brown, left, forces out Madison's Bella Johnston at second base Tuesday afternoon.

BELOIT - Beloit Memorial's softball team could finally enjoy that rare commodity this spring, a sunny, warm day, for just the second time all season according to head coach Jen Pozzani.

So what do they do with it? They zip past Madison Memorial, 5-0, in a Big Eight game that lasted a little over an hour.

Pozzani wasn't complaining about the fast finish. Neither were seniors Ariana Brown, Gracie Henthorn or Angelique Spencer, who could get right on with the post-game celebration on Senior Night at the YMCA Youth Sports Complex.

"My senior year has gone just like this game," said right-fielder Henthorn, who banged a solo home run to put her team up 2-0 in the fourth inning. "It's been pretty fast."

It's also been pretty great lately. The second-plaec Purple Knights have won seven straight games and improved to 13-2 in the Big Eight Conference.

"We've been meshing and playing as a team," Henthorn said. "It has made the season feel great. We're confident people are going to make plays."

Pozzani agrees.

"We're playing really good ball right now," she said. "We're rolling right into the end of the season playing our best ball."

Starter Jacey Walker pitched the shutout for Beloit, wriggling out of a few jams thanks to strikeouts and some clutch defensive play. She ended up with a four-hitter, walking two and striking out eight.

Walker got the only run it turned she needed in the first inning, courtesy of leadoff batter Natalie Bittner. She singled to right off Camryn Decker, moved up on a bunt, stole third and scored on a wild pitch.

Defensively, Miranda Mechanic set the tone in the second inning when Walker fielded a comebacker in the circle hit by Caleigh Christy, juggled it and then threw a fastball into the dirt at first baseman Mechanic's feet. She snared it on the first bounce for the out.

In the second, the Spartans had a runner at first when the Knights turned an unusual double play. Second baseman Brown retired the lead runner with a forceout at second, but her relay to first was wild. The runner tried to move up on the overthrow, however, and Brown took the throw from Mechanic and applied the tag for the DP.

"I started it, threw it right past her and she threw it right back to me to finish it," Brown said with a grin. "We really have been playing solid on defense and our bats are starting to definitely come around."

After Henthorn blasted her second homer of the season in the fourth, the Spartans seemingly had a rally going when the first two Spartans reached safely. The second was safe when she bunted and Walker threw late to second base.

"That was on me," Pozzani said. "I was yelling 'two' getting a little greedy there. We should have just taken the out at first."

Walker again escaped unscathed thanks to a strikeout, a flyout to shallow center and a groundout to third.

The Knights went to work in the sixth after Brown's pop fly to center dropped in and she hustled into second. Mechanic ripped an RBI single to right for a 3-0 lead, the same score as the first time the teams met.

Beloit tacked on two more runs this time as Madison committed a pair of errors. The fourth run scored on a throwing error and the fifth on Madison Stavn's RBI single.

Walker mowed the Vikings down in order in the seventh.

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