Behind Oak Ridge ace Kasey Stanchek’s complete-game shutout, the host Trojans prevailed 3-0 over Pleasant Grove in Wednesday’s Delta River League softball showdown.
Coming in, Oak Ridge faced a virtual must-win against arguably the best pitching in the league in Pleasant Grove’s right-hander Ally Carda.
“I told the girls to be aggressive but to realize they’re facing one of the best pitchers in the league and I told them not to get down on themselves if they strike out because Ally (Carda) will get her strikeouts no matter what,” Oak Ridge coach Marc Bentovoja said.
Pitching in her final home game as a Trojan, Stancheck put on a vintage display, going seven innings strong and giving up just three hits to go with four strikeouts.
While she will never toe the rubber on her home field again, Stancheck is focused on the remainder of the season, along with fellow seniors Jenessa Jeppesen, Julia Okasaki, Megan Watson and Christine Berg, who were honored for their years as Trojans.
“I guess it really hasn’t hit me yet. It was a big game but it’s not my last game for Oak Ridge. It did make it a little extra special going up against Ally.” Stancheck said.
Both Stancheck and Carda will continue their softballs careers as they will take their talents to the Pac-10 for Washington State and UCLA respectively, but Wednesday was likely the last meeting of their high school careers in an old fashioned pitchers’ duel.
The Trojan bats drew first blood going up 1-0 in the first inning thanks to Jenessa Jeppesen’s single that sent lead-off hitter Lauren Bertoy home. Oak Ridge racked up four singles in the first but had to settle for one run against the hard-throwing Carda.
Stancheck cruised through the early half of the game, throwing just six pitches in the third — all strikes. Her defense was busy all afternoon but to their credit, yielded only one error in seven innings.
“They were great. I have a lot of trust in them.” Stancheck said.
Troy’s offense made the best of its time on base against an Eagle defense not accustomed to many base runners with Carda in the circle.
Center-fielder Stephanie Brenneman reached in all three plate appearances, twice on hard-earned walks and once on a first-inning single that set up the first Trojan run.
“I did feel like their defense wasn’t that comfortable with runners on so we just had to take advantage the best we could,” Bentovoja said.
Oak Ridge certainly did that in the fifth inning when catcher Jackie Schmaeling executed a squeeze bunt to score Jeppesen from third for a much-needed insurance run. Jeppesen led off the inning with a hard-hit double in the left-center gap and swiped third on a sloppy exchange on the relay.
Stancheck took the ball in the final inning with a three-run advantage. determined not to let Pleasant Grove back in the game.
Oak Ridge, currently tied in fourth place with Ponderosa, needs to win all of its final three games.
“Our goal is absolutely to make the playoffs,” Bentovoja said. “We are firm believers that if we get in we’ll have success in the postseason. There’s is a lot of experience on our team.”
Troy’s road swing begins at St. Francis Friday. Oak Ridge is hoping for payback after losing 4-0 in their previous meeting.