By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Haley squared plus Hannah was more than enough for the Northridge Raiders to remain unbeaten on the NLC high school girls softball season.
Junior pitching standout Haley Nixon did the damage with her arm while senior Haley Nixon and junior Hannah Kistler did it with their bats in an 8-2 win over the visiting Elkhart Memorial Crimson Chargers Friday night.
Nixon scattered just two hits, although one was a home run to senior Brittney Joy,while striking out nine and walking one.
“Haley left that one ball hanging and paid for it,” Northridge coach Bo O’Dell said. “Memorial has too many good hitters to do that.”
Schrock singled twice and drove in three runs and Kistler slapped two double, two singles and drove in a run.
“The top of the batting order played well,” O’Dell said. “They led by example.
“I was a little surprised we got off to a slow start. We had just seen a similar pitcher recently. We talked to the girls about that. We didn’t hit a lot of balls hard. The hardest was a line drive by Nixon that the Memorial shortstop (sophomore Gabby Warner) caught. That might have been the hardest ball we’ve hit so far this season and we have nothing to show for it.”
“Senior Madison Schrock had a single and an RBI from the lead off spot, Kistler was second, junior Brianne O’Dell a double and two RBI from the third slot and Haley Schrock was fourth.”
Memorial coach Craig Sears said, “We had too many walks and errors. We have been stressing defense.
“The positive thing we can take away from this is Northridge dimed us (10-run rule) twice last season.”
Nixon was in control from the start. She retired 12 of the first 13 batters she faced all by herself on six strikeouts and six grounders back to her.
“When that happens it means Haley is hitting her spots,” O’Dell said.
“You notice that balls hit back to her were not hard ones. That means she is making the batter hit her pitch.”
Nixon used her defense later in the game and the Raider infield responded by turning a pair of double plays. Nixon started one in the fifth by throwing to shortstop Madison Schrock for the force at second and she relayed the ball on to her twin sister Haley at first.
Kistler began one in the sixth by catching a pop fly and firing the ball to Schrock at first,
“Haley (Nixon’s) key is to keep throwing ball and letting us back her up,” Kistler said.
“We keep talking behind her to remind her of that fact.”
Nixon fanned three in the first inning, then struck out one and fielded two grounders in the second, third and fourth.
“Nixon is a very good pitcher,” Sears said. “She dares you to hit the ball. She comes right at you.
“I’m glad we finally started making some contact. We wanted to put the bat on the ball. Joy got the lesson. The ball was probably up a little in the zone and she got the bat on it.”
Joy’s homer was the center field. It was the third round tripper of her career and the second given up this season by Nixon.
The Raiders scored three times on the third inning. Madison Schrock walked, Kistler followed with a single, O’Dell with a two-run double and Haley Schrock an RBI single.
“The main key for us was to be patient at the plate with the speed of the Memorial pitcher,” Kistler said.
“The top of the order did our job tonight. We listened to what the coaches told us.”
Kistler has not played since he freshman season.
“I missed last season after having shoulder surgery,” she said. “The team has been great about welcoming me back.”
Northridge scored three more runs in the fifth. Madison Schrock and Kistler singled and O’Dell walked to load the bases. Haley Schrock singled home two runs and O’Dell came home on a pass ball.
The final two runs in the sixth. Junior Grace Grevengoed and junior Jaymee Bowers singled. Madison Schrock drove in one run with a grounder out to second and Kistler doubled home the last run.
The only other hit Nixon allowed was a single by senior Christy Hill in the second.
One oddity in the game is Memorial also has a set of twins in seniors Lauren and Paula Strausborger.
Memorial 000 001 1 — 2-2-4
Northridge 003 032 x — 8-10-2
Pitching: (Northridge) Haley Nixon (W, 7-1) nine strikeouts and one walk. (Memorial) Paige Erwin (L) one strikeout and one walk.
Hitting: (Northridge) Hannah Kistler two doubles, two singles, RBI; Brianne O’Dell double, two RBI; Haley Schrock two singles, three RBI; Madison Schrock single, RBI; Jaymee Bowers single, Grace Grevengoed single. (Memorial) Brittney Joy home run, RBI; Christy Hill single.
Records: Northridge (7-1, 5-0 NLC) hosts DeKalb today 11 a.m. and South Bend St. Joseph at 3 p.m. Memorial (6-8, 3-2 NLC) entertains Warsaw Monday.