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SPRING HILL — A sweltering Wednesday afternoon saw Kelsey Butler pitch her best game of the season as Bishop McLaughlin won its Class 2A region quarterfinal.
The Hurricanes shut out Santa Fe Catholic 9-0 thanks to Butler’s performance on the mound.
While the team’s ace had previously tossed a combined no-hitter in the district tournament, this was her first complete-game shutout of the year, a two-hitter.
Bishop McLaughlin (16-10) wasn’t a juggernaut offensively either, so the fact that Butler held the Hawks (5-16) to only seven base runners while striking out six was all the more important.
“When you don’t have a lot of walks and people on base, that’s always a key to success,” Hurricanes coach John Yaratch said. “We didn’t underestimate what Santa Fe was bringing to this game at all.”
If they did, it didn’t show. Hawks pitcher Kathryn Dunn was the victim of an unearned run in the second after retiring the side in order in the first inning.
After that, Bishop McLaughlin chipped away a little each inning before finally opening up on her in the bottom of the fifth. Destiny Aplin and Brooke Baptiste led off with back-to-back singles before Megan Malone was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
A double by Andrea Niggebrugge knocked in all three runs. She was brought in after Amy Szymanowski reached on an error. After it was all over, five total runs crossed home in the frame.
The sluggish start doesn’t concern Yaratch as the Hurricanes await a region semifinal rematch with Lakeland Christian Friday. The programs met last season, a 4-1 win for the Vikings.
“I don’t think we played up to where we can,” he said. “If we play the way we’re capable of playing, I’m confident we’ll be all right.”