CORNISH — Counterparts since sixth grade, Angel Stoker got the upper hand against Mikaela Reuber in this chapter.
With the bat and in the circle. Stoker, Ringling's senior pitcher, struck out 13 and had the two-run double to open the scoring.
Codi Tolliver, London Lewis and Kass Perkins collected sixth-inning RBI singles in support of Stoker, who threw a no-hitter as Ringling defeated Healdton 7-0 Tuesday in Jefferson County.
A shutout is more important to Stoker than a no-hitter, she said, and she cited the importance of retiring the Lady Bulldogs' initial three hitters, who reached base three times — a .333 clip. Stoker hit Healdton lead-off hitter Adrie Brown with a pitch in the first and the third.
Senior Caycee Griffin deposited a slap bunt with two outs in the sixth. Covering first base, freshman second baseman Kelsey Thompson dropped the throw from Stoker. (In the fifth frame, Bayli Thompson reached on a fielding error against Tolliver.)
Via stolen bases, Brown reached second base in the first and Griffin in the sixth.
In the big picture, Healdton couldn't catch up to Stoker's pitches. She also elevated the strike zone. For instance, the Lady Bulldogs' third- and fourth-inning lead-off hitters chased pitches.
“For some reason, they (Healdton batters) weren't ready for it,” she said regarding her velocity.
During her at-bat in the sixth, Brown got behind 0-2. She worked the count full against Stoker, but struck out looking.
Offensively, Stoker helped herself, hitting an elevated change-up into the right-center field gap to drive in the Lady Blue Devils' first two runs in the home half of the first inning.
“Since last year, she's changed how she held the ball,” Stoker said of Reuber. “She used to be a circle change (style), where you could see it coming. Then she started turning her hand. I've seen the first pitch, how she threw it. Whenever she threw it to me, I kind of knew what was happening. It was high and outside, so I just kind of went with it, hit it to right-center.”
Presley Reid added a run with a groundout for Ringling (5-2).
From the second through fifth innings, Reuber nullified Ringling's bats, allowing four base runners — two reached via free pass and one via error — and retiring the side in order in the second. Ringling swung late on four occasions: Healdton first baseman Bayli Thompson recorded four unassisted putouts in those four innings.
Ringling adjusted in the sixth, Tolliver said, a frame that began with an out, as Healdton second baseman Maddie Bradberry — who was shaded toward the second-base bag — caught a liner off Reid's bat. Whitney Lester doubled. Kylie Christopher reached on a fielding error charged to Bradberry.
Tolliver's RBI single deflected off the webbing off Healdton (6-2) third baseman Mollie Marshall's glove, and past Griffin, charging in and to her right from her shortstop position.
Rayme Tolliver followed with a single to load the bases.
Diving late to her right, Lewis' RBI single traveled under Griffin's glove. Steelie Price reached on an error charged to Griffin. Stoker grounded into a 5-2 fielder's choice.
Perkins, a left-handed hitter, pulled an RBI single between Thompson and Bradberry, which concluded the scoring.
“We started getting Mikaela's pitches down,” Tolliver said. “We started reading her pitches (out of her hand).”
Stoker induced three groundouts in the final frame. Tolliver tagged out Morgan Auld to end the game because Lewis' throw required Tolliver to range to her left to catch it.
“My first priority was focusing on getting the batter out,” Tolliver said. “Go wherever the ball takes you. When (her throw) pulled me off, I was just focusing on tagging the runner.
“I'm proud of our team, and we're working toward getting to the state tournament.”