When Marysville High softball visited Sutter Wednesday, it represented a battle between a pair of the premier hurlers in their respective sections.
Senior Birdie Galaviz of Marysville, entered with a 1.84 ERA in 49-⅓ innings pitched and a team-high 33 strikeouts to just eight walks.
Sutter junior Riley Wickum had been nearly perfect, notching six of the team’s eight wins in the circle, a 0.92 ERA and 67 strikeouts coming into its bout with Marysville.
Something had to give, right?
The deciding factor seemed to be Sutter’s early success at the plate, striking three straight two-out rallies to jump on Marysville and give Wickum the cushion she needed to close out Marysville, 8-3 and stay perfect on the season.
The Huskies improved to 9-0, while Wickum is 7-0 in the circle as the top arm for Sutter.
“It was a difficult first inning (giving up) a four-spot,” said Marysville assistant coach Chris Larsen. “We couldn’t recover from there.”
Larsen praised Wickum’s ability to jump on the Marysville hitters from the get-go, establishing early momentum.
“Riley did a great job, she’s (probably) the best pitcher we have seen,” he said.
Wickum retired seven in a row and eight of nine Marysville hitters through the third, helping Sutter stake an early 6-1 advantage.
Part of the team’s offensive explosion came from freshman catcher Morgan Heggstrom’s two run homer to left – capping Sutter’s four-run first inning.
Sutter got two more in the second on a two RBI single by Ella Jolley. In the fourth, Sutter delivered another two-out rally when Meadow Topete doubled to the left-center gap. Jolley followed with a two-out, two RBI single to push it to 8-1. She was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
“We knew we had to score early, Marysville is a good hitting team,” Sutter coach Stefanie Danna said.
Marysville (7-2) got two back in the fifth when Isabella Mendoza struck a double to right, scoring Mikayla Haggard. Sophia Tyler followed with a sharp single to short that couldn’t be successfully fielded, plating Mendoza and cutting the deficit to 8-3. Andi Duff added two doubles for Marysville.
Wickum preserved the five-run lead with a scoreless sixth and seventh inning. In the sixth, the junior righty stranded runners at the corners to get out of the inning.
“What I liked about today is (Riley) kept our composure with runners in scoring position,” Danna said.
Wickum finished with eight strikeouts, while her counterpart, Galaviz had four.
Marysville is at Colfax today (Thursday), while Sutter looks to stay unbeaten Friday at Lindhurst.