NEW PORT RICHEY — Mitchell won a softball game Tuesday night, beating rival River Ridge 2-0.
Cortney Radke shut out the Royal Knights on four hits and struck out 15.
In a showdown with pal and River Ridge ace Lakyn Shull, Radke was the clear winner.
Her curveball was working, the few times she threw it. Her fastball was zippy. Her riseball was irresistible.
Her resume, solidified.
"If that's not the Player of the Year," Mitchell coach Scott Bisbe said, "then I don't know where she is."
The votes have yet to be tallied, and there are still much bigger games to be played, but Bisbe's brief stump speech doesn't need much embellishment. Instead of bumper stickers and pins, he merely needs to pass out boxscores.
There was the time she struck out 21 batters against Gulf. The two 18-strikeout games against Pasco and Academy of Holy Names. The no-hitters, all three of them, including the one she lost.
Then there was Tuesday night, when she was marvelous in the big matchup.
Radke will leave the best player debate for others. She says she's good, but Shull, who lost for the first time this season, is just as good.
What she cares about is winning. Instead of looking back, she is looking forward. She thinks she can carry her team further than it has ever gone before. Maybe, even state.
"I think I can," she said, then pausing for a second, "I know I can."
Against the hottest team in Pasco County, Radke was icy cool. She gave up a leadoff hit to Madison Morris, who made it to second base on a misplay, but then stayed there as Radke struck everyone else out.
When Morris made it to third base in the third inning, Radke ended the inning with another strikeout.
In the seventh inning, she struck out the side.
Striking out 15 Royal Knights is no easy task. No one else this season has done it. We are talking about a team that whiffs about four times a game, and few are better at putting the ball in play.
But Radke found the zone, then stretched it out, then made the big pitches.
She got Morris, who had only struck out three times all season, once.
She got Brittany Forrise, who had only struck out three times all season, twice.
She got Amber Jones, had only struck out seven times all year, three times.
"Radke was just on," Bisbe said.
Shull was also good, but Heather Muccino's run-scoring triple in the first was all a pitcher like Radke, with a 0.23 ERA, usually needs.
When Muccino scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 in the first inning, it was all but over.
Shull and Radke pitch on the same club team. They are friends. But Radke wanted to be the happy one afterwards, whereas Shull clearly wasn't.
"She'll get over it," Radke said, grinning.
She is now 13-2, and just one more game like Tuesday's away from 200 strikeouts. Pretty much exactly what Bisbe envisioned.
"I said it from Day 1," he said. "She's going to be Player of the Year."
Players of the year strike out opponents in bunches. They throw no-hitters. They dominate.
Most of all, they win the big ones, like Tuesday.