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.
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.”
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.
But, the Cadets found their bats again in the third inning as they loaded the bases with the first three hitters. Then, Cascade’s Kate 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.”
The Warriors exited the season at 5-13, a year of learning for a very young squad.
“We tried to compete on an inning-by-inning basis,” Owens said. “For the most part we have played six freshmen and sophomores this year. It has been tough for them to learn to play together this year. I am very happy that our kids kept their heads together. We learned something from playing a very good team.”