Rockdale hurler Katie Ferrell allowed a single in the top of the second inning Thursday and decided that was all visiting Salem was going to get. Ferrell retired the last 16 batters she faced after Stephanie Brassard's hit, part of a five-strikeout, one-hitter in Rockdale's 1-0 victory.
"She pitched great today, kept us in the game," Lady Bulldogs coach Justin Arrington said. "She did her job, especially when we only get one run."
That one run came with the help of Ferrell. In the bottom of the fourth inning, she ripped a leadoff double and moved to third on Bre Richardson's ground out. Jackie Jenkins followed with a ground out to second base that sent Ferrell home for what turned out to be the game's only run.
"(Ferrell has) been hitting the ball, (but) she's been hitting it to people," Arrington said. "She got a hold of one."
"It felt good to actually get a hit," Ferrell said.
Ferrell and the Rockdale defense made it stand up. The right-hander breezed through the middle innings, taking just 18 pitches to get through the third, fourth and fifth innings. She got a lot of help from an aggressive Salem offense, which made four first-pitch outs.
"We were anxious; I told them we were working a whole lot harder than (Rockdale)," Salem coach Stephanie Bassett said. "Shut down completely; that's been our constant struggle. I told them whatever you do tonight, sleep with your bat because I cannot endure another hitless game."
Meanwhile, the Rockdale defense didn't make any spectacular plays, but every single routine play was gobbled up, including four putouts each from right fielder Richardson and shortstop Quilla Franklin.
"I have a great defense behind me," Ferrell said.
"When you got a pitcher out there that's going to walk people, (it's tough)," Arrington said. "Her throwing strikes helps our defense out tremendously.
Salem's Rylee Rogers had a fine outing as well, scattering four hits and striking out eight.
The freshman right-hander escaped a big jam in the third inning to keep the game scoreless. Rogers walked Lexi Jones and Candace Johnson to start the inning, and Katelyn Baker singled to load the bases. Facing the top of the Rockdale order, Rogers struck out Franklin and Amber Mitchell swinging and caught Cidney Scoggins looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the frame.
Rockdale also threatened in the sixth as Mitchell and Ferrell got singles, but Rogers forced a pop out and a line out to wiggle out of trouble.
"She did great," Bassett said of Rogers. "I told her the first couple times through the order she did really good."
Rockdale, which improved to 2-2 in Region 8-AAAA, returns to action Tuesday at Monroe Area, a team it defeated 9-0 in last month's opening of the Bulldogs' new field.
Salem (1-3) plays in this weekend's Evans Invitational in Augusta, opening up pool play against Warner Robins at 6:30 p.m. today.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.