Dowagiac catcher Kourtney Mitchell makes contact during Wednesday’s non-league doubleheader against St. Joseph. The Bears swept the Chieftains. (Daily News Photo/RON HARNER)

Archived Story

Chieftain bats go silent

Published 11:34pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dowagiac’s bats were silenced Wednesday in a high school softball doubleheader against St. Joseph. The Chieftains totaled only three hits in dropping a pair of games to the Bears, 2-0 and 1-0.

Most of St. Joseph’s success on the mound came from junior Rachael Knapp. In the opener, Knapp tossed a one-hitter, struck out 17 and walked three. Knapp, who has verbally committed to play softball in two years at Central Michigan University, went the first four innings in game two and allowed two hits, struck out nine and walked none. Knapp, who improved her record to 5-2, entered the game with a 0.43 earned run average.

“I knew coming in that Knapp was one of the best pitchers in the state and I knew it would be a struggle for us,” said Dowagiac coach Mike Behnke, whose team dropped to 3-16. “And it was.

“But all around we played much better than we had been playing. We made a lot of plays. But, in the end, it came down to plays we didn’t make and it cost us some runs. But we did improve tonight.”

In game one, St. Joseph scored a run in the first inning on a close play at home plate. The Bears added an unearned run in the fourth inning. Two Dowagiac errors helped St. Joseph score in that inning.

“I saw (the ball) definitely being in the (catcher’s) glove and on the tag the girl slid in and knocked it out,” Behnke said about the first inning run. “She just didn’t have a firm grip on it. The girl would have been out if the ball would have been held on to.”

Dowagiac’s lone hit in game one came with two outs in the seventh inning. Kourtney Mitchell hit a sharp grounder that just got past the St. Joseph pitcher and second baseman and rolled into the outfield.

Chieftains pitcher Taylor Meiser allowed nine hits, but did a nice job working out of jams. St. Joseph stranded eight baserunners. Knapp collected three hits, including two doubles for St. Joseph.

In game two, Dowagiac got good pitching from Tori Smith. Smith tossed a two-hitter, hit two batters and walked one. St. Joseph scored a run off a Dowagiac error in the first inning.

“Honestly, I can’t say enough about how Taylor Meiser pitched in the first game and how Tori Smith pitched in the second game,” Behnke said. “(Tuesday) night, in both games against South Haven we must have had 15 plus walks. Throwing strikes has been an achilles heel for us all year long. We threw strikes tonight and made the plays behind our pitchers for the most part.”

Dowagiac got an infield single from Kristyn Turner in the first inning and a single from Sierra Herter in the fourth inning. Herter went to second on a wild pitch with two outs and was left stranded. The Chieftains also stranded a runner on second base in the sixth inning.

Freshman Jessica Boyd relieved Knapp to start the fifth inning. Boyd allowed no hits, struck out two and walked one.

St. Joseph coach Jeff Luckritz praised Knapp and explained why he took her out in game two.

“She throws really hard and has four great pitches that she can locate,” said the Bears coach. “If she can locate her pitches there aren’t many people that are going to hit her in the state.

“We’ve always brought in Boyd for the second game. This is the first time we’ve brought Rachael in for both games. I just wanted to see how it goes (for Knapp) and see if she has the stamina (to work two games in one day) because come district time we might have to use Knapp for more than one game in a day.”

First game

St. Joseph 100 100 0 – 2 9 0

Dowagiac 000 000 0 – 0 1 2

Rachael Knapp (W, 4-2) and Danielle McCoy; Taylor Meiser (L) and Kourtney Mitchell

2B: Knapp 2 (SJ)

Second game

St. Joseph 100 000 0 – 1 2 0

Dowagiac 000 000 0 – 0 2 1

Knapp (W, 5-2), Jessica Boyd (5-S) and Danielle McCoy; Tori Smith (L) and Kourtney Mitchell

Varsity records

St. Joseph 7-5, Dowagiac 3-16

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