Perfect weather and near-perfect pitching.
The Kent Roosevelt and visiting Field (1-1) softball teams split their non-conference doubleheader Saturday as both squads got solid performances from their pitchers.
Game one saw the Rough Riders (2-2) win 1-0 behind a solid pitching performance by Kelley Barabas (2-1). Barabas has been outstanding so far in the 2000 season, throwing a no-hitter and a one-hitter. It was business as usual for the right-hander, who surrendered just three hits and recorded six strikeouts against the Falcons (1-1).
"Kelley is a very good pitcher with good control over her ball. She throws a lot of junk," said Kent Roosevelt coach Amy Larkin. "She also has a pretty good fastball, which makes her junk effective."
Field countered with freshman Julie Curtiss (0-1), who looked anything but inexperienced. Curtiss allowed just four hits herself with five strikeouts in her first high school performance. Working with youth coach and former Falcon mentor Whitey Prunty in the summer, Curtiss has expectations high at Field.
"Whitey told me she is the real deal," said Field coach Ted Salsburg. "She is contributing already."
A leadoff walk to second baseman Erica Miller, followed by a Maya Gilbert sacrifice, set up the game's only run. Brandi Beeman (5-of-6, 1 run batted in) sent a line drive down the left-field power alley to score Miller.
Barabas punctuated the win by setting down the Falcons in order in the seventh, striking out Kara McElvenny to end the game.
Game two was more of the same, as both teams struggled to get their offenses moving until the Falcons struck for three runs in the seventh to win 3-0.
Amanda Branham (1-0) got the start for Field and looked sharp early despite some defensive breakdowns. Branham had a no-hitter going in the fifth, but was forced to work out of jams as the Falcons committed four errors in the first three innings.
"Amanda has been on vacation, so we did not get to work with her last week," said Salsburg. "She is disciplined enough that she threw every day on her own and didn't miss a beat."
Senior Brianna Smith (0-1) countered for the Rough Riders. Smith did not overpower anyone, recording just one strikeout in seven innings, but got out of trouble with some help from her defense.
Surrendering six hits, Smith watched the Falcons launch doubles off the bats of Danielle Knapp in the first and Rachel Hendrickson in the second, but escaped without giving up a run through six.
Gilbert, a junior third baseman, provided a lift to the Rough Riders on defense as she robbed hit after hit from the Falcon batters. The Rough Rider defense helped Smith through the entire game.
"(Smith) was getting hit a lot, but our defense played great," said Larkin. "(Gilbert) did not play last year, and early on she was making some errors here and there. She is such a great athlete that we knew with time she would rise to the occasion, and we are just four games in and she has already risen."
Field threatened all game and finally got the job done in the seventh. With one out, substitute Heather Joseph got a rally going with a single to left. Hendrickson belted a shot off the chest of shortstop Meghan Sandor to keep the rally going for another substitute player, Ashley Kynkor.
Kynkor ripped a double to left-center, scoring both Joseph and Hendrickson. Denise Shanafelt knocked in Kynkor with an insurance run.