KEARNEY — Katie Blodgett and Makaela Carr put on quite the showing inside the circle on Monday, Sept. 30. But, in the end, it was Blodgett who outdueled Carr to lead the Kearney Bulldogs to a 1-0 softball victory in eight innings over the Smithville Warriors at Kearney High School.
Both Blodgett and Carr threw the entirety of the contest for their teams, going seven-plus innings before Blodgett scored on a throwing error after a Jadyn Barnes bunt in the bottom of the eighth. Blodgett, who reached on an error to start the inning, was moved to second on a bunt single by Lillie Filger before scoring from second on the error.
“It really came down to a pitcher’s duel and to who was going to make an error first and it just happened to be Smithville tonight,” Kearney coach Katelyn Hochard said. “It was quite an exciting game, I’d say that.”
Blodgett hurled a two-hitter and struck out six batters as the Bulldogs (6-7, 2-4 Suburban Blue) got revenge on the Warriors (10-6, 5-2), who won the first meeting the season 5-1 on Sept. 10. in Smithville.
“She just had some crazy good spin on her ball,” Hochard said. “She threw her batters off a little bit and they couldn’t get her timing down or get anything hard in play. Our defense stepped up behind her and made some really good plays.”
“It reminds me of the old days when the pitchers threw from 40 feet,” Smithville coach Steve Tingler said with a laugh. “They dominated the game.”
Carr was strong in her own right, striking out 11 batters and allowing just two bunt singles. She fired 22 first pitch strikes.
“It was one of her best games,” Tingler said of Carr. “She battles out there. She throws hard and her changeup is coming around the last couple weeks; it’s been very effective for her.”
Smithville’s loss snapped a five-game winning streak. Carr has aided the Warriors to some impressive victories of late, throwing a three-inning perfect game and recording pitching victories over defending Class 4 state champion Blue Springs South on Sept. 20 and Blue Springs on Sept. 25.
Tingler said he’s seen Carr mature in her junior season.
“In the past, if something would go wrong, it might continue to go wrong,” Tingler said. “But like (against Kearney), if something went wrong, she’d just bear down and get tougher.”
Blodgett has also strung together a few strong pitching performances. Headed into the Smithville matchup, Blodgett threw back-to-back no-hitters, the first a 15-0 four-inning no-hit effort and the second a 17-0 three-inning outing.
“She’s been doing well,” Hochard said. “I just think with her being experienced and just that senior leader, she’s just stepped up into that role. She just gives it her all and she keeps pitching well.”