WASHINGTON TWP. – Karly Messina was just a three outs away from achieving any pitchers’ dream – that of throwing a perfect game.
But in the end, the Cherokee High School sophomore was happy to settle for a win.
Messina took a perfect game into the bottom of the seventh inning, but saw the opportunity vanish when Washington Township batters suddenly strung together four straight hits and scored a pair of runs.
However, Messina quelled the uprising, Thursday, and the Chiefs held on for a 4-2 Olympic Conference American Division win.
“I did,” said Messina with a smile when asked whether she was aware she had a perfect game going into the seventh inning. “I know – I blew it.”
However, no one was complaining about the performance, realizing that Messina was in command throughout the game.
“I thought Karly threw amazing,” said Cherokee senior catcher Ally St. Jean. “She was really hitting her spots, and working her pitches really well. She’s been doing really great. She really as a presence out there and she’s a leader.”
Perhaps it was only natural that Messina was at least a bit disappointed about giving up the late hits and runs. But it helped that her teammates gave her a cushion that stood up.
“It (losing the chance at perfection) was tough,” Messina said. “But I knew they had a good hitting team, and it was my third time through the lineup. So I knew it would be a little bit tougher to go through the top of the lineup again.”
Messina saw her bid for a gem end when Maddie Gillen led off the seventh with an infield single. Cherokee shortstop Meg Gray went all out to make the play.
But the ball was hit over the middle of the infielder, just a little too far to Gray’s right. Gray made a clean stop, but her throw to first base was late.
Samantha Bagosy removed all doubt about whether a no-hitter may still be in play when she followed with a solid double to right-center.
Brianna Hoskins would later hit a sacrifice fly, but Messina retired the side without any more damage.
With the win, Messina raised her record to 10-2 for the season. It was the second time she defeated Washington Township this season.
She wasn’t overpowering, recording only three strikeouts, but she seemed to keep the Township batters off balance, and gave up very few hard-hit balls.
Coach Mary Madgey has grown accustomed to seeing such fine performances from the young hurler. The coach said a lot of Messina strength comes from the mental aspect of pitching.
“She has good spin on the ball, but she’s just really tough in there,” Madgey said. “She doesn’t get too worked up. She doesn’t get in her own head. She just stays focused and she keeps us in games.”
On the other side, Washington Township’s Shannon Gasparovic didn’t pitch badly at all.
She gave up two runs in the second inning as Cherokee loaded the bases and got RBI singles from Jordyn Deveney and Izzy Witham.
However, it was a nice escape for Township in an inning that began with Cherokee loading the bases with no outs.
Then, in two other instances, the third and the fifth innngs, Gasparovic pitched out of bases loaded jams without giving up a run to keep her team in game.
Meanwhile, Cherokee’s 2-0 lead held up into the top of the seventh. Then the Chiefs added two more runs on a ground out by Gray and another RBI single by Deveney.
At the time, it looked like those runs were meaningless taking into consideration they way Messina was pitching.
But, as it turnout out, those runs stood up as the difference in the game.
Cherokee 020 000 2-4
Washington Twp. 000 000 2-4
WP: Karly Messina, LP: Shannon Gasparovic
2B: Samantha Bagosy, WT