By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Ursuline pitcher Makayla Shore freely admitted she didn’t quite have her best stuff against Conneaut on Monday at Skippon Park. Despite that fact, the hurler tossed a no-hitter to beat the Spartans, 10-0.
“It’s a good feeling,” Shore said. “It wasn’t my best game. I could’ve hit my spots more and threw a little better.”
Shore (6-3) and catcher Dana Creatore had a good plan of attack against the Spartans.
“Dana and I work really well together,” she said. “Between innings, we talk to Coach a lot about what’s working and what’s not working and what their tendencies as hitters are. We were trying to outsmart their batters and get them to chase pitches or hit easy fly balls.
“Early on in the game, the umpire was not giving a lot on the corners. We really wanted to work on the drop. They did a good job not chasing the rise, so we worked on the drop and changeup.”
Shore fanned 10 and walked 2 over 7 innings in her first career no-hitter.
“She was mixing speeds and from what I could see, the ball was moving all over the place,” Conneaut coach Nick Armeni said. “She had really good movement.
“She deserved (the no-hitter). She was that good.”
Ursuline coach Mike Kernan was happy to see Shore finally get a few breaks.
“She’s getting a little sharper every time out,” he said. “She’s been throwing pretty well. She’s been a little unlucky. There have been some balls that have dropped, then we follow them with an error.
“She was sharp today. Her changeup was really on. That makes all of her other pitches more effective. When they did make contact, they didn’t find the holes.”
The Fighting Irish (6-3) netted 10 runs on 13 hits.
”From a hitting standpoint, we knew we were facing a great pitcher in Lexi (Zappitelli),” Kernan said. “Unfortunately for her, we’d been hitting it right at people lately.
“We hadn’t had a game where we put it all together. We did (put it together) today. Everyone seemed to hit pretty well. We had a good offense today.”
Zappitelli (4-2) gave up 6 hits and 5 runs, 4 of them earned in 5 innings. She struck out 5 and walked 4 in the loss. Brianna Oatman allowed 5 runs, all of them earned, on 7 hits. She struck out 1 and walked 1 in 2 innings for the Spartans (7-2).
The Spartans also committed 3 errors.
“I thought their whole team stayed back on (the changeup),” Armeni said. “None of them were off-balance.”
Armeni was impressed with the approach the Fighting Irish took.
“I love the energy they had,” he said. “Their girls come to play every day. Every one of them knows what they’re doing before they throw the ball. They’re all moving with the pitch. With us, we were statues for 45 minutes. I was pretty impressed by them.”
After plating an unearned run in the first, Ursuline got a kickstart with a homer from McKenzie Stimpert in the second.
“The team kind of rallied around that,” Kernan said. “That was kind of a little turning point. That put us over the hump.
“I always say hitting is contagious. For a Division III team, we have a pretty good lineup. The home run jump-started the contagious hitting.”
Ursuline netted 3 runs in the second, 1 in the fifth, 4 in the sixth and 1 more in the 7th.
Alexis Nelson, Brenna Nelson and Jessica Volkman all reached base on errors and Alyssa Chadwick and Amanda Chadwick each drew a walk for the Spartans.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.