Miley Hawkins retired three batters. Then another three. And then three more.
Fulton was boosted by a no-hitter from the freshman Tuesday in the team's 10-0 six-inning win against Moberly in the first round of the Class 3 District 6 Tournament.
After being removed in the third inning of the team's regular season finale against Mexico on Thursday, the only people prematurely walking back to the dugout were the Lady Spartans (12-12). Hawkins retired the first 16 batters, collecting six strikeouts along the way, as the only baserunners she allowed were via hit by pitch and forceout in the sixth inning.
Head coach Tim Echelmeier said the Lady Hornets (20-8) were strong in every aspect of the game Tuesday, which all started with Hawkins in the circle. He said pitching performances like hers can spread confidence into the rest of the team, leading to airtight defense and steady hitting.
"She's thrown well all year," Echelmeier said. "The rest of the team had confidence playing good defense behind her. It just kind of fed on itself. There were a couple innings we didn't do much offensively, but we felt really comfortable with the way she was throwing."
The Fulton batters evidently had some of that confidence in the first inning, even after Moberly's Madyson Klostermann struck out the first two hitters. The Lady Hornets didn't strike out again after that.
Senior Alex Trowbridge has hit many balls either to or over the fence this season but barely dropped a single within the first base line just 10 feet behind the bag. This was the spark Fulton needed as the next three hit safely, starting with freshman Brilee Ash hitting an RBI double and freshman Layla Underwood following with a rocket down the right field line to score Ash. Echelmeier said the outfield defense played a role in the early rally as Trowbridge's reputation helped her with that first Fulton hit.
"With Alex's reputation in how she hits the ball, outfielders play extremely deep," he said. "You're going to get hits like that sometimes when they respect you. Layla hit the ball very well, but they're playing back there. If they're playing normal depth on defense, that is easily off the wall."
In the second inning, four more Fulton runs scored in a frame to give the Lady Hornets a 6-0 lead. Two made the trip home after a hit from senior Rylee Baker, giving her the first hit of a 2-for-3 day.
Moberly stabilized its pitching for three innings after making an early move to Taylor Martin, but the Lady Spartans' chances had already faded away as Hawkins carried a perfect game into the sixth inning. The hollow echo of Abi Smothers' helmet on a hit by pitch signaled the end of the streak as Moberly had its first baserunner with one out in the sixth, which was then promptly erased after a fielder's choice for the second out. A ball finally found its way through the Fulton defense but didn't result in a hit after sophomore Sam Hedgpath made a throw from the outfield to forceout the runner at second.
Hawkin's teammates then shortened her night with four runs in the sixth to end the game via run-rule. A couple of Moberly infield errors extended the inning for Sam Hedgpath to drive in sophomore Jayna Hedgpath until it was an 8-0 game with two on for senior Rylee Caswell. She drove one in the gap to score the final two runs, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBI.
Fulton is scheduled to play Winfield (13-11) at 6 p.m. today in Fulton. Thursday is a rain makeup date, with rain in the forecast today and the rest of the week. Games could also be moved to Mexico's turf field, if need be.