Skowhegan pitcher Sierra Corey delivers a pitch to Messalonskee hitter Morgan Wills as catcher, Emily Dunbar, awaits the ball during a game Wednesday in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

OAKLAND — Between the second and third innings, Skowhegan Area High School pitcher Sierra Carey went behind the dugout with a teammate and played a little soft toss. It wasn’t to stay warm on a windy day. The sophomore was trying to get a feel for a pitch that was giving her a little trouble.

“My spin pitches weren’t working, so I just wanted to get a little work in,” Carey said.

The spin pitch never quite was what Carey wanted, but it didn’t matter. Even without her best stuff, Carey was very, very good. Against Messalonskee on Wednesday afternoon, Carey threw a no hitter — the first of her high school career — in a 3-0 victory.

Until the game was complete, Carey had no idea she hadn’t allowed a hit.

“No, not at all,” she said.

Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson knew. Maybe he was being superstitious or maybe he was just doing his best not to put more stuff than necessary in his young pitcher’s head, but Johnson said nothing until after shortstop Jaycie Christopher caught a popup for the game’s final out.

“I knew she did. I didn’t want to bring it up. (Carey’s) a good pitcher, for a young kid. The question I had is, with inexperience, would that be a factor? Today she threw the ball pretty well,” Johnson said.

It’s easy to understand why Carey didn’t realize what she was accomplishing. This wasn’t one of those dominant, overpowering, everyone-knows-something-special-is-happening no-hitters. Carey struggled with her control throughout the game, walking six Eagles and hitting another. Messalonskee had a baserunner reach third in the second inning and again in the third. Each time, Carey regained her focus and escaped the jam. While her spin pitch wasn’t there, her fastball was, and that was the pitch Carey went to when she needed an out.

“I just had to dig in. I knew I had my defense to help me out,” Carey said.

Messalonskee outfielder Kristen Dube runs into the center field fence as a child takes cover from a deep fly ball during a game against Skowhegan on Wednesday in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“She got herself out of jams. She got ahead in counts when she needed to, and her defense made plays behind her. It’s a team effort, for sure,” Johnson said.

Carey only had one one-two-three inning, and that came in the seventh. That also was the inning in which Carey came closest to losing the no-hitter, when Messalonskee had its only hard hit ball. With one out, number nine hitter Jordan Lambert stroked a line drive back up the middle.

If the ball is a couple inches to the left of Carey, it likely gets through to center field for a base hit. If Lambert hits it a foot or two to the right of Carey and she has to reach across her body to try to catch it, same thing. The line drive was right to Carey’s glove side, and her reaction speed was top notch. Carey got her glove up just in time to make a snap catch for the second out, preserving the no hitter she didn’t know she had.

Messalonskee’s Kierra Bumford (8) and teammate Morgan Genners (14) take the the field in the third inning of a game against Skowhegan on Wednesday in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“It just all went black, as soon as I caught it,” Carey said.

Carey struck out eight, and her work in the circle gave the River Hawks offense enough time to give her some breathing room. Ahead 1-0 through five innings, Skowhegan added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Emily Dunbar singled, and Mariah Whittemore doubled to deep left field, a ball that almost was caught by Messalonskee’s Riley Genest. Riley Fitzpatrick then doubled, and the River Hawks had handed their young pitcher some space.

Not that she needed it.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 


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