AP NEWS

Another Marquette pitcher close to perfect

May 2, 2018 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY — When your ace pitcher has thrown two perfect games in the last six days, what else would you expect from your No. 2?

Summer Johnson was not quite perfect Tuesday, but she could’ve been, probably should’ve been, allowing only one baserunner as Marquette won its seventh straight, an 11-0 trouncing of East Chicago Central that could’ve been much worse.

Blazers coach Shaun McConnell, knowing the visiting Cardinals were overmatched, held runners up on several occasions, and had at least five runners intentionally leave base early to keep the score down.

“We try to get the girls to do what they need to do, work on baserunning a little bit, but that’s about it. You never know when you’re going to be in that situation. It happened to us a couple of years ago – we got run-ruled – and I try not to take advantage of it. Three years down the road they might have all the talent, so we don’t want to run it up.”

It really wouldn’t have mattered, as Johnson was in command from the start. She retired the first 10 batters she faced, six on strikeouts, and three on slow rollers back to the mound.

Central’s only baserunner came in the fourth, when starting and losing pitcher Jaqueline Delgado hit a little fly out to second which was misplayed by the Blazers backup second baseman. McConnell had cleared his bench to start the inning with his team already up 11-0.

“Technically I’d given her a no-hitter,” McConnell said of Johnson, who finished with just the one runner allowed and seven strikeouts. EC never got the ball out of the infield.

“Summer pitched a really nice one today,” he said. “I don’t know what they ruled it, but I think physically the second baseman should’ve been able to handle that one ... she didn’t walk anyone, so to me she had a perfect game. It’s nice to see your second pitcher do that.

“She’s been doing a lot better. She was really good on Saturday against Bishop Noll (a three-hit shutout with four strikeouts), too.”

Had that ball at second been handled, it would’ve been the third perfect game by a Blazer pitcher in a week. Ace Lauren McConnell had perfect games on Wednesday against Gary West Side and Monday against Victory Christian.

Johnson, who said she “felt really good out there,” didn’t want to be compared to McConnell, who has signed to pitch for Fort Wayne next year.

“She’s better than me; she’s a D1 player,” she said. “I’ve always looked up to her so I can better myself. It’s gonna be hard without her next year.

“She’s like a good role model so I’ll miss her next year, but I’m excited about being the pitcher next year.”

As for this year, the Blazers are “getting on a roll,” coach McConnell said.

They scored a run in the first on an RBI single by Liv Hackett, then added five in the second and five more in the third.

In the second, six of the first seven Blazers drew walks around an infield single by McKenna Moore. Four of those walks drove in runs, and the final run scored on Johnson’s RBI double, the first of her two for the game.

In the third, Sara Molina led off with a triple, then Stacey Barron and Moore singled. After a walk and a hit batter, Hackett drove in a run with a single, and Lauren McConnell doubled in a pair before the coach had both leave base early to end the inning.

“We had a rough start to the season,” the coach said of his team, now 8-5 after a 1-5 start. “We had girls on vacation, a player with mono and three with influenza B. I’m just starting to get my players back. We played seven games with a straight nine, no substitutes. I’m actually starting to get some subs on the bench. We’re starting to get it going.”

MARQUETTE 11, EAST CHICAGO CENTRAL 0

EC Central 000 00 — 0 1 0Marquette 155 0x — 11 10 0

WP — Summer Johnson (5 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 7 K, 0 BB). LP — Jaqueline Delgado (4 IP, 11 R, 11 ER, 10 H, 1 K, 8 BB, 1 HBP). 2B – Summer Johnson 2, Lauren McConnell. 3B – Sara Molina. SB – Ally McConnell, Isabel Pacheco.

Records: Marquette 8-5, EC Central 1-3-1.