Defense leading way for 6-0 MHS
When the McLouth High softball schedule came out, the first three dates didn’t look easy.
The Bulldogs would have to play three road doubleheaders before they played a single home game and, after all, this could be a relatively down year for the successful program.
Or maybe not.
MHS improved to 6-0 on the season with a sweep at Pleasant Ridge in Easton on Thursday. McLouth run-spread the Rams in both games, winning 10-0 in five innings and 13-3 in six innings.
What’s more, junior pitcher Kaley Patterson threw a no-hitter in the shutout. Her father, coach Ballard Patterson, said Kaley would have had a perfect game but midway through she booted a pop-up hit back to her, costing her an error and perfection.
Kaitlyn Sparks started the second game and after PRHS scored three early runs, Patterson entered in relief to finish the contest and pick up her sixth victory of the season.
Patterson has ate up the majority of McLouth’s innings in the circle but Ballard Patterson said her success comes from the players on the diamond behind her.
“We’ve allowed seven total runs and our defense has just been fantastic,” the coach said, noting that none of those runs have come against McLouth’s top nine.
That group features Patterson at pitcher, Jessie Troupe at catcher, Emily Welsh at first base, Morgan Drinnon at second, Missy Rome at shortstop, Marissa Raya at third and outfielders Sparks, Kelsey Campbell and Kelsey Mills.
Coach Patterson marveled about the Bulldogs’ starting unit.
“I have been really pleased with Marissa Raya at third base. She’s just done a fantastic job,” Patterson said, noting the freshman has seen about 15 balls hit her way and has yet to make an error.
His senior shortstop has impressed as well.
“Missy Rome is just Missy Rome,” Patterson said. “She’s always going to be amazing.”
The coach attributed the successful defense to a couple of factors: focusing on it more at practice and additional involvement from the unit in games.
“In the past when (opponents) put it in play, we didn’t expect it because (the pitchers) were throwing it by people,” Patterson explained.
So far this season, MHS foes are making more contact, which wasn’t usually the case the past few years.
“When you stand there for an hour and don’t get a ball hit in the field, then you’re not ready when it does,” Patterson said. “That’s been a big difference this year.”
But it’s not as though Kaley Patterson has struggled. In her first year as McLouth’s go-to pitcher, she has thrown 31 innings and struck out 53 batters.
Her father said she was ready to take on that kind of duty because she has plenty of experience doing the same for her competitive team in the off-season.
“She’s the type of kid that can go throw three or four games in a day in the summer,” he said.
As good as the pitching and defense have been, the offense isn’t exactly a liability. Through six games McLouth is blowing out its opponents with a total run margin of 57-7.
The team’s coach said it has thrived by taking an opportunistic approach at the plate and running the bases really well.
Always looking to improve, Patterson said MHS is capable of even more.
“I wish our hitting was a little stronger early in the games but we usually figure a way to pick it up late in games,” he said, explaining that a slow start against one of the state’s top teams could mean an insurmountable five- or six-run deficit.
On Tuesday, McLouth will see such a squad, when Silver Lake visits for a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader, the Bulldogs' home opener.