STERLING – Kylie Ackerman was dealing, and that proved to be too much for the Newman softball team to deal with with.
Ackerman, a freshman pitcher for Erie-Prophetstown, tossed a 4-hitter to lead the Panthers to a 4-0 victory over the Comets in a Three Rivers matchup Friday afternoon in Sterling.
Ackerman (2-0) struck out seven, didn’t walk a batter, and allowed just one baserunner to reach third base. She was also backed with mostly airtight defense, with the only miscue being a dropped two-out throw by first baseman Amanda Bertolozzi that prolonged the fourth inning.
“I was nailing that outside corner, which felt really good tonight,” Ackerman said, “but the defense was really the standout in the game. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be where I was.”
Erie-Prophetstown (5-0, 2-0) made the most of seven hits it managed off Newman starter Laura Turnroth. Laykin Miner led off the game with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on throwing error by Newman right fielder Erin Pasley.
A two-run single by Clare Kramer in the third inning upped the lead to 3-0. Jenna Forward capped the scoring with an RBI triple in the seventh.
“The kids played great defense,” E-P coach Bob Phelps said, “and seven hits, we’ll take that off a pitcher like that. We stepped up and played defense, that was the big difference tonight.”
Newman (1-1, 1-1) managed just four singles, and none were in the same inning to put any serious pressure on Ackerman. Newman’s best threat was in the sixth, when Jaimie Hurd singled with one out, then motored around to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Mary Alice Oswalt. The next batter, Jenna Stevens, grounded out to end the inning.
Turnroth (1-1) allowed two earned runs, seven hits and a walk, with six strikeouts.
“Our energy level just wasn’t there tonight,” Newman coach Rick Turnroth said. “We were just flat. It’s the last day of spring break – I don’t know. We should have had more enthusiasm and intensity, and we just didn’t have it tonight.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, were positively giddy after the game. They haven’t been beaten yet, are hosting their own invitational Saturday, and are looking to erase the memory of a 12-17 season in 2012.
“We’re definitely looking to shake things up in E-P history,” Ackerman said. “Coming out from a record that wasn’t too great last year, we’re definitely trying to do better than that, and we’re doing great so far.”
Star of the game:
Key performers: Clare Kramer (E-P), 2-for-4, 2 RBI; Laykin Miner (E-P), 2-for-4, 2 R; Erin Pasley (N), 2-for-3
Up next: E-P Panther Invite, 9 a.m. Saturday; Newman at Kewanee, 4:30 p.m. Monday