By ERIC BENAC
News Sports Writer
The Alpena softball team’s sweep of Petoskey on Thursday had a lot to do with quality pitching
Alex Peters threw a no-hitter in an opening 5-0 win and Corinn Gehrke threw a solid four-hit game in the second, a 12-1 victory.
“It always adds up to a win when a pitcher is throwing well and the defense is solid. We hit above average off a great pitcher, Annie Hansen and came away with a win,” Alpena coach Paul Marwede said of the first game.
Peters gave up one walk, struck out 12 batters and struck out at least one batter in every inning but the third. Two batters reached on errors.
Behind Peters’ pitching perfection, Alpena’s offense struck fast and often with seven hits total in the game.
Lead off batter Logan Myers hit a single at her first at bat and scored after being driven in by clean-up batter Caten Teff. Teff moved Brenna Bourdage, who had walked earlier, to third, but Bourdage was left stranded.
Alpena’s offense dried up for two innings before Abby MacArthur broke the Wildcats’ dry spell in the fourth inning. She reached on an error and eventually scored off of two passed balls.
The Wildcats then struck hard in the fifth with Kara Gehrke, Peters and Elise Leeck being driven in. Teff hit a double to drive in Kara while Jenna VanDusen hit a double to knock in the rest.
This gave Alpena the 5-0 lead it kept for the rest of the game for the win. The Northmen went 1-2-3 in four innings and Peters struck out the side in the first inning. She faced no more than four batters in any inning.
The Wildcats switched things up in the second game by sending in Corinn Gehrke to pitch but Petoskey stuck with Hansen.
“They came back with the same pitcher and our girls are coming up against her three, four, five times in a two or three hour period. Seeing the same pitcher that many times shifts the advantage to the batter as they know what she’s capable of and how to adapt,” Marwede said.
Alpena showed off that ability to adapt right away when Myers tripled on the second pitch of the game.
Peters then drove in Myers with a single and was then driven to second off a Bourdage single. MacArthur later drove both runners in with a single to give the Wildcats an early 3-0 lead.
The Northmen seemed like they might answer back as Corinn walked the first batter, Makenna Smith. Gehrke was able to throw out the next batter at first, but an error enabled Smith to score later.
The Wildcats then answered back at the top of the second with five runs including scores by Mary Schimmel, Meyers, Peters, Bourdage and Teff. Peters’ double drove in Schimmel, who had drawn a walk and Myers who had beat out the throw to first on a bunt.
Petoskey’s bats went silent after that as Gehrke struck out two in the second, threw out two runners and struck out one in the third. She was also able to strike out two more in the fourth.
Gehrke gave up only two hits in that three inning stretch while Hansen gave up eight.
Bourdage scored again in the fourth after an two-run single by Desiree Robertson. Leeck was then driven in by Schimmel to give Alpena an 11-1 lead.
Alpena scored one more run in the fifth before Petoskey had the chance to answer but the Northmen left two batters stranded on first and third.
“When your pitchers are throwing well it gives the defense a lot of confidence. And when you have great pitching, confident defense and above average hitting, you have a recipe for playing stronger together and a recipe for a win,” Marwede said.
Alpena is now 6-4 overall and 5-0 in the Big North Conference. The Wildcats travel to Grand Blanc to play in the Michigan Stars Tournament with 48 teams.
The Alpena JV team also had a huge night in Petoskey, winning its first game 13-3 and their second 17-2. Mykayla Price was the winning pitcher in both, pitching every inning in the first game. She picked up 12 strike outs, gave up two walks and one hit in the first game. Allison Heise and Alexa Smith both went 2-for-3 at bat.
Price then pitched three of the four innings in the second game, striking out three and giving up one walk and three hits. Lauren Heath replaced her in the first.
Madison Amlotte and Sarah Bodus were both 2-for-3.
The JV team is now 6-0 overall and in the Big North. They travel to Fenton today and participate in a Howell area tournament on Saturday.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.