Although she’s watched freshman pitcher Clare Zureich confuse and dominate opposing hitters all season long, Cardinal Gibbons head softball coach Veronica Wootson-Ross is still in amazement of what her team’s ace has been doing in her first year at the high school level.
Tuesday was no different. Wootson-Ross was once again impressed by Zureich as she threw a no-hitter and struck out 15 batters in the Crusaders’ 4-0 victory over Big 8 Conference foe Cedar Ridge.
“She’s a very special player,” Wootson-Ross said. “She has a lot of poise on the mound. We’ve been in a lot of tough situations and she just keeps her composure.”
With the victory, Gibbons (16-0) clinched the conference regular season championship and the Crusaders are now just one win away from the first ever undefeated regular season since joining the NCHSAA in the 2005.
“I’m so proud of my girls,” Wootson-Ross said. “I’m absolutely satisfied with the way they’ve been playing. We’ve come together as a team.”
Dominating from start to finish, Zureich allowed just one base runner all day as Cedar Ridge junior Brooklyn Byrd drew a walk with two outs in the top of the fourth inning. Aside from that, the Red Wolves (10-7, 7-6) had a tough time figuring out Zureich and her impressive riseball.
With that said, Cedar Ridge isn’t the only team to be held hitless against Zureich this season. The freshman pitcher also threw a no-hitter against Green Hope in March.
While some pitchers might obsess over having the opportunity to throw a no-hitter, Zureich doesn’t. She didn’t even realize what she had done until after the final out was recorded.
“Usually I don’t even realize it until somebody says something after the game,” Zureich said.
While Zureich was dealing on the mound, Cedar Ridge freshman pitcher Rivers Andrews had a solid performance as well, recording nine strikeouts while holding the Crusaders to just one run through the first five innings.
However, Cardinal Gibbons was able to tack on three more runs off of Andrews in the bottom of the sixth to pad its lead.
Cardinal Gibbons sophomore Kassidy Wood drove in the game’s first run in the bottom of the first with an RBI single.
Wood would later score on a wild pitch in the sixth inning to make the score 2-0 before freshman Sarah Austin sent in two more runs with a single.
Overall, Cedar Ridge interim head coach Johnny Barefoot, who filled in for head coach Jeff Gravitte, who was out sick, thought Andrews’ performance was a solid one.
“She had a great performance,” Barefoot said. “She went out and tried to do her part and she controlled the game for most of the time.”