By CHIP CIRILLO
Grace Christian Academy ran into near-perfection Friday.
Santa Fe starter Brandi Stanfill and reliever Averi Slaughter combined for a one-hitter in a 10-0 win at GCA.
Lady Lions third baseman Kelsi Sikora broke up Stanfill’s perfect game with a single to left-center field in the fourth inning.
She was GCA’s only base runner in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.
Stanfill and Slaughter retired 15 of 16 batters for the Lady Wildcats (5-6).
“The first girl had some deceptive speed and my girls were starting a little bit too early swinging,” GCA coach Bill Hardwick said. “And I think we had some nerves today.”
Sikora said scooting up in the batter’s box helped her get a hit off Stanfill the second time she faced her after striking out in the first inning.
“She was really slow, so you had to scoot up and she looked like when she came off she was fast,” Sikora said. “But when you scoot up it makes it a lot easier and the girls didn’t really catch on because they just get nervous.
“She was a good pitcher, like, she had strikes. I can relate to her because I pitch also and that’s how my pitching is. It looks like I’m fast, but we don’t use all of our legs and it makes you go slower. So our arms make it look fast.”
Sikora, a transfer from Independence, has made a good recovery from a fractured vertebra in her back sustained in travel softball and re-aggravated while weightlifting.
Slaughter struck the last three Lady Lions (2-3) in the fifth to seal the win.
“(Brandi) threw strikes and she pitched ahead in the count, and that was the key for us,” Santa Fe coach Seth Woodard said. “She’s had some shoulder injury issues, so that’s actually the second time she’s pitched this year.”
Stanfill kept GCA off-balance with a fastball and a changeup.
GCA, a second-year program that went 0-15 last season, has made good strides this spring despite the lopsided loss to Santa Fe.
“The team is night and day difference,” Hardwick said. “The girls are a team, they get better with every game and I just can’t wait until the next one.”
Photo from GCA.