The Elizabeth Forward Warriors had three opportunities to score against the talented offerings from Montour pitcher Kaitlyn Kutchman.
And three times the right-hander shut down what had been a potent Warriors offense earlier this season.
Timely hitting and a flawless defense earned the Spartans 16 hits and a 7-0 victory against the Warriors in the Class AAA WPIAL softball championship Thursday at California University.
Both teams advance to the first round of the PIAA Class AAA state tournament beginning Monday.
Montour, which improved to 17-5, will meet the District 9 champion. Elizabeth Forward fell to 17-7 and will face the District 10 champion in the next round.
Montour coach Bill Wills wasn't surprised by Kutchman, who has been the pitcher of record in every Montour game this season.
She improved to 17-5, scattering five hits and striking out six batters.
"She's a seasoned player, even more this year," Wills said. "She knows what she has to do and doesn't get unnerved very often."
Kutchman said she welcomes challenges.
"I like pitching with pressure," she said. "I think that it's actually easy for me because I'm focused when there's a lot of pressure."
Kutchman relies frequently on her changeup, but she said the curveball was her most effective pitch against the Warriors.
"Kaitlyn threw an excellent game against us," Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford said.
"We've played 24 games and had seven scrimmages and this is just the second time we've been shut out. You have to give her all the kudos in the world. She threw a terrific game against us."
Elizabeth Forward left two runners on in the second and fourth innings, and then left the bases loaded in the fifth as cleanup hitter Melissa Kern struck out.
"We had an opportunity when it was 5-0 [in the 5th inning] and we had runners at second and third and didn't cash in on that opportunity," Rutherford said. "If we get the key hit at that time, it's a different game."
Montour took advantage of its opportunities. The Spartans' No. 9 hitter, Alyssa McMurtrie, hit a 0-2 pitch from Warrior pitcher Portia McBride for a leadoff home run in the third inning. McMurtrie had three of the Spartans' 16 base hits and scored three runs.
Leadoff hitter Stacey Capp and Allison Hryadil each had three hits, and both of them had two RBIs each. McBride pitched a complete game for the Warriors and fell to 17-6.
First Published June 1, 2012 12:00 AM