Senior pitcher strikes out 8
For the first time this season, Ballard softball coach Alan Jones let his starting pitcher go the distance Wednesday night, and Akilah Mouzon did not disappoint.
The senior pitcher struck out eight and retired the first 12 Mercy batters she faced in the Lady Bruins’ 4-0 victory over the visiting Jaguars. Of the six singles she gave up, only three left the infield, and two of those came in the seventh inning.
“We’ve been using all the pitchers in tandems, but because she had that no hitter going late in the game I was just staying with her,” Jones said. “They weren’t putting the bat on her.”
This is Mouzon’s first season with the Bruins (5-0), the No. 10 team in state coaches’ association preseason poll, after transferring from New Jersey at the beginning of the school year. Already she’s considered one of the top players in the Seventh Region, as the Illinois commit is rated as the region’s sixth-best player by the state coaches.
She showed why Wednesday as she struck out seven of the first 10 batters she faced. She didn’t allow a hit until Abby Wilder’s infield grounder had some English on it to start the fifth.
Mouzon (3-0) faced some trouble in the next inning. The Jaguars (5-3) loaded the bases with two out thanks to a pair of infield singles by Kasey Kinsey and Lexie Ray. But Mouzon got Wilder to pop out and end the threat. In the seventh, Mercy got the tying run on deck, but Lexy Wright popped out allowing Mouzon to preserve the shutout.
It was Mercy’s sixth pop out of the night.
Mouzon credited Jones for calling a good game as everything she was throwing was working.
“I was feeling pretty good,” she said. “My defense was looking really good today.”
The Lady Bruins gave Mouzon all the runs she’d need in the fourth inning. Alexis Smith singled to start the inning. After stealing second, she advanced to third on Shelby Kelley’s base hit, with Kelley taking second as the throw went home.
Ray (4-1) got Skyelar Houston looking for the first out, but Allie Skaggs laid down a squeeze bunt toward the sophomore pitcher. Ray’s throw home went high allowing Smith and Kristen Klimesh, a courtesy runner for Kelley, to score.
Skaggs went to second, and after a stolen base, scored on Zakiya Sizemore’s infield single. The Lady Bruins tacked on another run in the fifth when Catie Barber, who doubled to start the inning, scored on Kelley’s groundout.
Mercy coach Gregory Meiners said this was the first time his team had seen Mouzon pitch, and while they talked in the first inning about how well she was working the outside corner, the young Jaguars never made the necessary adjustments, he said. Still, he was glad to have a chance to play a quality opponent early in the season.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids,” said Meiners, whose Jaguars have just two seniors on the roster. “We lost two Division I players from last year, and we haven’t faced much adversity yet.”
MERCY (5-3) 000 000 0 – 0 6 1
BALLARD (5-0) 000 310 X – 4 7 0
WP – Akilah Mouzon (3-0). LP – Lexie Ray (4-1). 2B – Lindsay Sparrow (B), Catie Barber (B).