Lower Columbia College pitcher Jessica Gibson twirled a no-hitter in the opener, and the Red Devils exploded for 11 runs in the second inning of the nightcap to sweep an NWAC South Region doubleheader from Clark at Heerensperger Field on Saturday at Tam O’Shanter Park.
LCC (15-11, 13-9 region) won the opener 9-0 in five innings, and took the nightcap 14-6 in six innings.
“They played well, probably the best I’ve seen them play all season,” LCC coach Traci Fuller said. “I couldn’t be happier because we took two mercy-rule wins over Clark.”
Gibson, a sophomore from Rainier, threw 36 of her 53 pitches for strikes and finished with four strikeouts. A two-out walk in the first inning, and an infield error in the fifth inning is all that stood between her and a perfect game.
“She’s our ace,” Fuller said of Gibson. “She’s throwing the ball well right now and feeling good about herself.”
The no-no was Gibson’s second this season. She held Grays Harbor hitless in an 8-0 victory on April 21.
“I hit my spots and worked with my catcher (Sam Boyce),” Gibson said. “She’s really good at knowing where I throw best. I worked the corners a lot.”
Gibson admitted the first inning walk was OK.
“I’d rather do that than give up a bomb,” she said. “I don’t throw the ball down the middle as I don’t feel that’s effective. I had them swinging at a lot of pitches that weren’t strikes.”
LCC, which led 5-0 after four innings, plated four runs in the fifth to end the game early. With one out, Hannah Rothwell and Myranda Krull hit back-to-back homers, Cheyenne Gilbertson slapped a single, and Bailey Hockett crushed a two-run walk-off bomb.
The Devils finished with 15 hits. Aurora Gouley had a single, double and solo homer, Shanay Dotson had three hits including a double, and Christine Robbins slapped a pair of doubles.
In the nightcap, the Devils sent 14 batters to the plate in the second inning, resulting in six hits, three hit batters and three Clark errors. LCC’s big hits were a two-run homer from Robbins, a two-run double from Rothwell, and RBI doubles by Arielle Burnett and Gilbertson.
The Devils, who led 12-1, needed three outs in the top of the fifth inning for an early ending. The wheels started coming off the LCC cart as the Penguins parlayed four singles and three Devils’ errors into five runs to trail 12-6.
“They got back into it in the fifth inning,” Fuller said of the Penguins. “We talked after the game about how it’s not easy, even if you’re ahead by a large margin. We have to remember to maintain our focus.”
LCC bounced back with an RBI single in the fifth inning from Boyce, and a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the sixth from Gouley to end the game early.
“We don’t play perfect defense as it is, and we have to do a better job than what we did in the second game,” Fuller said. “We need to slam the door when we have the chance. Fortunately, we had a big enough cushion that it didn’t hurt that much.”
The Devils had a dozen hits in the nightcap. Burnett had two doubles, Robbins finished with two hits, Briana Harvill had a two hits with a double, and Gilbertson scored three times.
LCC visits Centralia on Sunday to resume a doubleheader called for rain in the fourth inning of the opener on Thursday.
Devils split with Centralia: LCC got outhit twice Saturday in a pair of West Region games but earned a 12-8 win in the opener before dropping the nightcap 6-4. The Red Devils fall to 30-8 overall and 16-3 in region play. Tacoma also split Saturday, so the two are still on even footing atop the West.
In the opener, Cameron Campbell went 2-5 with two RBI, Jordan Barchus was 2-4 with three RBI and Taylor Davis was 1-4 with two RBI as LCC collected nine hits. Davis also threw seven innings and allowed 11 hits before Trevor Huddleston tossed two scoreless to earn the win. LCC trailed 8-6 entering the eighth inning, before putting up a six-spot in the frame.
In the nightcap, Tyler Parsons took the loss after striking out five in six innings of work, allowing all six runs. Ricky Muzzy, Kyle Sandstrom, Corey Conklin and Chase Hodkinson picked up the Devils only four hits. Centralia busted out for 11 hits, scoring all six runs in the first two frames of the seven-inning ballgame.