McCluer North Shuts Down Pattonville Softball
Stars shut out Pirates on Thursday in 8-0 win.
MARYLAND HEIGHTS - McCluer North senior pitcher Rachel Franck was her usual dazzling self on Thursday afternoon.
But it was the Stars offense and defense that stole the show as North posted an impressive 8-0 win over Pattonville in a Suburban North Conference showdown at Pattonville High School.
The Stars improved to 11-4 overall and 4-0 in league play with their fifth successive shutout.
Pattonville fell to 6-7 and 2-3.
North has outscored its opponents 51-0 during the five-game streak with Franck posting five successive shutouts.
Franck improved to 10-4 with her sixth blanking of the season. But it was the offensive explosion and defensive wizardry that brought a smile to the face of North coach Patrick Dougherty.
"The hitting has been a lot better than I expected all season long," he said. "I'm really shocked."
Junior Tynai Burrow, seniors Alex Hopper and Shannon Murphy and sophomore Mary Kate Raftery led the way on Thursday. Burrow had three of her team's nine hits. Hopper and Murphy drove in a pair of runs each. Raftery scored twice and also drove in a run.
Hopper, at second base, also excelled at the defensive end with a running web-gem at the outset of the fourth inning. Monica Vanhook also made a nifty catch in center.
"We've always had a pretty strong batting order," Hopper said. "At the beginning of the year, we might have struggled a little bit, but we're happy with the way we're hitting the ball now."
Raftery, the starting catcher, says hitting is contagious.
"It's kind of like the domino effect," she noted. "Once one person does it, everybody does it."
Such was the case against Pattonville.
North scored in four of seven innings and went down in order just once. The Stars scored two runs in the first inning to make things easy for Franck, who tossed a four-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks.
"It's great to be up early," Hopper said.
Hopper started the first-inning rally with a one-out double. She then scored on a triple by Raftery. Burrow followed with a run-scoring double.
The Stars added two more runs in the third to go up 4-0 as Murphy and Kayla Anderson each ripped two-out run-scoring singles.
Murphy pumped the lead to 5-0 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth that brought in Burrow, who began the frame with a double.
Franck, Hopper and Burrow added key hits in a three-run uprising in the sixth.
"I was really happy with the all-around effort," Dougherty said. "Everyone is kind of fitting in. And they've been working hard."
Pattonville had won three of its previous games entering Thursday's contest. The Pirates got the first two hitters on in the first inning. Kailey Utley and Kierstyn McCormick reached safely on bunt singles. But the middle of the order was unable to come through against Franck. The Pirates managed just two more baserunners the rest of the way.
"Sometimes we play dynamite, we play lights out," Pattonville coach Doug McGhee said. "And some days we don't. We have to be more consistent."
Pattonville pitcher Skyler Rodgers went six innings allowing five earned runs.
"We did some good things,' McGhee said. "Just not enough of them."
North travels to Kirkwood for a non-conference game Friday. Pattonville takes on Ritenour in a league contest Tuesday.