There are 21 outs in a regulation-length high school softball game.
On Thursday, during the District 10 Class A semifinals held at Penn State Behrend, Sharpsville pitcher Brianna Flynn notched more than three-quarters of those outs all by herself as she struck out 16 batters in the Blue Devils’ 8-0 win over Cochranton.
“She had three games last year with 17 (strikeouts). This is her second game this year with 16,” said Sharpsville coach Bob Zikovich. “She throws hard. And her last three pitches were as fast as her first three. She’s a beast.”
Flynn, a junior, allowed just three hits and walked four in the shutout victory. She also recorded the final out of the game with an unassisted tag on the base path.
“She can bring the gas,” Zikovich said. “And I thought her curve ball was outstanding. She had six, seven, maybe eight strikeouts with her curve ball. It had to be ... my catcher said it was breaking a good foot.”
Sharpsville improved to 15-6 with the win and moves on to the District 10 championship where the Blue Devils will face Conneaut Valley, 11-0 winners over Union City yesterday.
Cochranton, meanwhile, ends its year with a record of 14-5.
“We ran into a really good team, especially the pitcher,” said Cochranton head coach Mark McGuire.
The Lady Cardinals didn’t quite put their best foot forward in yesterday’s game. Their defense committed five errors, and Sharpsville’s batters also drew seven walks.
“We were a little off-balance,” said McGuire. “I’m sure nerves played a part. And getting down early, that didn’t help us any.”
After securing two outs in the first, Cochranton starter Sarah Jacobs walked four straight batters to put Sharpsville on the scoreboard.
In the second inning, with two outs and the bases loaded, first baseman Hanley Spencer hit a single up the middle to score two more runs.
Sharpsville added a fourth run in the fourth inning. Second baseman Kristy Roberts singled, made it to third on an error and then scored on a ground ball.
Cochranton was still in it, though.
“Early on, it could have gone either way,” said McGuire. “A couple hits could have changed the whole thing.”
Cochranton got its best opportunity to strike back in the bottom of the fifth as the Redbirds loaded the bases with one out. But Flynn got out of it, fanning the next batter and coaxing a pop-out to end the inning.
“(Sharpsville) got the hits and we didn’t,” said McGuire.
The Blue Devils made it 6-0 with two runs in the sixth. Third baseman Kelly Thompson had a leadoff double down the left field line. Catcher Mackenzie Popatak singled her home, and then later scored on a fielder’s choice.
Sharpsville tallied their final two runs in the seventh inning. Center fielder Katie Hanley and Thompson both drew walks. Roberts singled in Hanley. Then Thompson scored on an error.
Getting hits for Cochranton were Gretchen Herzberger, Kellilynn Dickson and Rebecca Saunier.
The game was the last one for Cochranton seniors Amber McGuire, Brittney Fowler, Amanda Mosier and Rebecca Sturey.
Pete Chiodo can be reached at 724-6370 ext. 275 or by e-mail at email@example.com.