By Jeff Robison
CLAYTON — For Class 2A third-ranked Cascade, Wednesday’s opening Sectional 44 game against Covenant Christian may turn out to be the start of a special tournament run. For the youthful Warriors, the contest was tough lesson. The Cadets turned on their bats and junior pitcher Kellie Mink turned up the heat on the Warriors’ hitters as the Cadets cut short Covenant’s season with a 23-0 win in five innings.
Mink was nearly perfect in striking out 14 of the 16 batters she faced. The only exceptions came when Mink hit one batter and recorded a ground out to the mound.
Cascade coach Don Helmick noted that his team’s pitching has made his job much easier this year.
“Our pitchers, Kellie and Kate (Breedlove), have made it where we do not have to score a lot of runs to win,” Helmick said. “Fortunately, we have scored a lot of runs, but when Kellie and Kate hit their spots, we are tough to beat.”
Covenant Christian coach John Owens admitted Cascade was one of the best teams that the Warriors have faced.
“That is a well-coached team that plays very well together,” Owens said. “Kudos to Cascade. They had great pitching and great hitting. Quite honestly, I will be very disappointed if they do not make it to the (state) finals.”
As tough as Mink was on her opponents, she got plenty of offensive help from the Cascade lineup. Kate Breedlove was especially productive as she recorded four RBI in her three at bats.
“Strange as it sounds, we just told Kate today to keep an eye on the ball,” Helmick said. “She did, and that was the best she has hit all year. But, Covenant’s pitchers threw strikes, and we really hit the ball pretty solid all the way through the lineup.”
The Warriors fell behind early, giving up four runs in the opening half of the first inning that was highlighted by a two-run homer for Cascade cleanup hitter Morgan Burch.
Covenant Christian kept it close as starting pitcher Tori Driskell retired the side without a run in the second inning.
The Cadets found their bats again in the third inning as they loaded the bases with the first three hitters. Then, Breedlove started a 10-run Cascade onslaught in the third inning with a base hit that plated the first two runs of the rally.
Covenant Christian attempted to change things up over the next two innings by changing the pace using relief pitcher Wendy Lin. But the hit parade continued until the Cadets tallied their 23rd run.
“(Cascade) has tough hitters, one through nine-and more like one through 12,” Owens said. “We thought going to our slower pitcher would upset their timing a little bit, but (the Cadets) were ready for it. Even when we got outs, they hit the ball hard.”
Several Cadets had multiple hits, including Breedlove (3 hits, 4 RBI), Brandyce Sallee (3 hits, 2 doubles), Sydney Stein (3 hits, double), Casey Bell (3 hits), Brenna Sallee (2 hits), and Taylor Sandifer (2 hits).
Cascade continues its journey meeting West Central Conference rival Cloverdale today at Cascade for the sectional title. Cloverdale advanced with a late 11-3 victory over Speedway.