JAY — Jay High School swung the bats Friday against Telstar Regional High School junior Kayla Merrill more productively than any other Mountain Valley Conference softball opponent this spring.
Bad news for the MVC and the rest of Western Class C, considering that Merrill carried a no-hitter two outs deep into the sixth inning.
Three hits and heads-up baserunning gave Jay something to grow on, but long after the issue was settled in undefeated Telstar’s 9-4 triumph.
“We played a 1-0 game against them three weeks ago,” said Jay coach Robin Roberts. “We hope we see them again in the playoffs. I have some confidence.”
Telstar (11-0) scored two runs in the first inning, one in the third and three in the fourth before Jay (7-5) got on track.
In addition to breaking up the no-hitter and shutout, Alexi Deering’s two-run single to center field was the first ball to leave the infield against Merrill.
Beth Moore reached on an error and Brittany DiPompo walked to trigger the Tigers’ rally. Both scored, but Merrill reeled in Hannah Morin’s relay throw and rifled to Lindsay James at second base, catching Deering to retire the side.
The Rebels added three seemingly innocuous insurance runs in the seventh with a series of hard-hit balls against Jay reliever Paula Despres.
Lyndsay Merrill, Kayla’s sophomore sister, led the uprising with a double. Kayla Merrill (double), TJ Cowin (single) and Morin (triple) each knocked in a run.
“We came right back and let Jay know. That answered the call,” said Telstar coach Jim Lunney. “Jay’s a good team. They weren’t going to quit. They can hit the ball.”
Indeed, without Telstar’s three-spot, Jay might have sent the potential tying run to the plate in its final cracks.
Ashley Dorey singled with one out and Alexis Blodgett reached on unsuccessful fielder’s choice with two away. Ashley Quirrion followed with a two-run double to left.
Merrill coaxed Moore into a one-hop comebacker for the final out.
It wasn’t an epic effort for Merrill, who logged six consecutive shutouts to start the spring and has seven overall. She faced the minimum through five innings, though, allowing only a leadoff walk to Quirrion in the third.
Sam Largess threw out Quirrion at second to end that inning.
Merrill struck out five and issued only one additional free pass.
“She might have been a little tired,” Lunney said of Merrill. “She pitched all seven innings (Thursday, a 9-0 win over Mountain Valley), and it was 80 degrees at the start both days. But she has pitched every inning for us this year. We feel like she gets stronger the more she pitches.”
Lyndsay Merrill had three of Telstar’s nine hits from her leadoff spot, including a pair of doubles.
Cowin and Kayla Merrill both drove in two runs and eight of the nine players in the starting lineup scored a run for Telstar, which seeks its sixth straight trip to the regional championship game next month.
“We’ve all played together for a long time, and we feel like we know what it takes,” Lyndsay Merrill said.