Aledo tops United in pitcher's duel

Marty Touchette
Megan Putnam

Aledo (4-1, 2-0) handed the United softball team (6-3, 0-1) its first home loss since 2007 with a 2-0 win Wednesday, April 8, in Cameron.

Three critical mistakes cost the Red Storm their home winning streak.

With no score in the game, United's Rachel Kenney led off the second inning with a home run to straight away center field for an ever-so-brief 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for the Red Storm, Kenney had batted out of order resulting in a out instead of an early lead.

"I hit it right on the nose, perfectly," Kenney said. "I was devastated pretty much (when the home run was waived off). It was really, really hard."

An inning later, pinch runner Ashlynn Winkler was sent home on an aggressive base running decision by coach Gary Eyler and was called out on a play at the plate.

"We had a coaching error that cost us a run and our defense let us down," Eyler said. "The key thing is we are not hitting and we won't win a lot of games until we start to hit. We are taking too many pitches."

Those two runs would prove costly.

United pitcher Katie Bertelsen, who took the loss (5-3), retired the first two batters in the sixth inning to keep her hopes of another no-hitter alive. Aledo's leadoff batter, Stephanie Peterson, broke up the no hitter with a soft, bloop single down the right field line. United dodged a bullet when Courtney Bennett's deep fly over the head of United left fielder Taylor Toops bounced over the fence for a ground rule double, forcing Peterson to stop at third.

Bertelsen nearly pitched out of the jam, quickly getting two strikes on Aledo pitcher Megan Putnam. Disaster then struck when Putnam hit a routine fly ball to left field that Toops had in her glove but dropped, allowing two runs to score.

Bertelsen struck out 17, walked one and allowed just three Green Dragon hits.

Putnam was every bit the equal of Bertelsen on the mound, striking out 14 United batters and walking none while allowing just three hits.

"It was great. I wasn't nervous at all. It was my best game all season," Putnam said. "I've been really excited about this game all season."

Aledo coach Daryl Bewley called it "a quality win."

"We have been struggling a bit this year. It is a confidence builder, we won't see a pitcher better than her (Bertelsen) all year," he said. "We've always beaten United until last year when Katie came."

The Red Storm were clearly downtrodden after the loss.

"We are disappointed in ourselves. We know we can do better," Kenney said.

Stephanie Peterson