It wasn't a no-hitter this time, but Columbus High pitcher Mary Catherine Smith was stellar nonetheless.
The dominant sophomore struck out nine of the first 10 batters and 16 overall en route to a complete-game shutout in a 2-0 win over Shaw on Tuesday.
"My curveball and screwball were really working," Smith said after the game. "The riseball was working, too. (Pitching) Coach (Jamie) Wilson did a great job calling the pitches, and I just felt good from the get-go."
Smith struck out each of the first four who came to the plate before hitting a batter with one out in the second inning. That runner amounted to nothing, however, when she struck out the next two to retire the side.
She struck out three batters in order in the third, and finally gave up the first hit of the game, a single to Shaw shortstop Elizabeth Bush, on an 0-2 count to lead off the fourth. Another single by Hartley Busby put runners at first and second with only one out, but Smith rose to the occasion again to strike out the final two batters.
"She's been our go-to pitcher all year," Columbus coach Chad Mathis said. "Sometimes, when your pitcher is pitching like that, it can make it a long day for the defense, so ours had to stay in the game. But we give her all the credit. She did her job today."
After tossing a no-hitter once already this year, Smith admitted that it was on her mind a little bit again early in the game.
"I was thinking about it a little, but I was just trying
not to let it get in the way of my game," she said.
She allowed just two hits in the game on Tuesday.
Smith got some early offense, two runs in the bottom of the first, which turned out to be all she needed.
Alexis Jones led off the inning with a single up the middle, and a bunt single by Nicole Humphries put runners at first and third with nobody out.
Two batters later, Lexie Stohr roped a hard double to left-center field to drive in both runners and give Smith a comfortable 2-0 lead.
"I had a great team behind me," Smith said. "It makes a pitcher feel a lot better when you can go ahead and get a couple of early runs on the board."
Stohr was stranded at second in that inning, and Columbus stranded the bases loaded in the second to keep it from putting any further damage on the board in the game.
Six more batters reached in the final four innings, including another bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fifth. Again, though, the Lady Blue Devils were unable to strike.
Most of the struggled at the plate can be directly attributed to Shaw pitcher Regina Falcon, a pitcher who has also recorded a no-hitter once this year.
While she was far from perfection on Tuesday, she was able to pitch around the jams and keep her team in the game.
After struggling to get through the first inning, Falcon settled down quite a bit.
She finished with a complete game in the loss, allowing two runs on 10 hits and striking out three.
Stohr led the way at the plate for Columbus. She was 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs.
Columbus will take on LaGrange next, while Shaw will play at Troup. Both games will be on Thursday.
Tuesday at Columbus
Shaw 000 000 0 --0 2 1
Columbus 200 000 x --2 10 1
WP--Mary Catherine Smith. LP--Regina Falcon. Hitting leaders--Columbus, Stohr 2 for 2, 2 RBIs. Records--Columbus (19-3-1); Shaw (5-7). Next--Columbus, Thursday at LaGrange; Shaw, Thursday at Troup.