NEW PORT RICHEY — The longer Cortney Radke pitches, the more some begin to wonder when her arm will expand into thick green muscles like a certain comic book character.
Perhaps the most incredible thing about Radke's latest feat was her smooth, confident tone when asked about taking the mound again tonight.
Radke once again guided Mitchell to victory Tuesday, a 1-0 win against rival Gulf in 12 innings. Tonight, the Mustangs will host Pasco in a rematch following a 1-0 win in Dade City, when Radke threw 18 strikeouts and hit the winning home run.
On Tuesday, Radke won with her powerful style, notching a career-high 20 strikeouts for the complete-game shutout. She also hit the winning RBI, a sacrifice fly to rightfield with the bases loaded to score freshman Lydia Kinney.
"Thank God she's on our team," Mitchell coach Scott Bisbe said of Radke. "… We still have girls that are tentative and not going up there aggressive after I've talked about it for the last three weeks. We were lucky to get out of here tonight."
Mitchell (8-0) had the bases loaded in the top of the first with no outs but could not cash in.
Credit the Gulf defense, which played solid ball, feeding the confidence of sophomore pitcher Rachel Enerson. She allowed nine hits but finished with seven strikeouts, also going the distance.
Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner had the utmost confidence in the Buccaneers (5-4) after the Houdini-like first-inning escape.
"To get out of that with nothing, I told the girls that's the game," Hohenthaner said. "We're going to win the game now. That was the ball game right there."
Gulf had its shot to score with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth before Radke notched another strikeout to escape the threat. Gulf stranded four runners in scoring position.
When asked about pitching again tonight against the Pirates, Radke said she was ready.
"Twelve innings is nothing," Radke said.
Then her catcher Sara Brock chimed in.
"Cortney's a beast," she said.
To put the wear and tear into perspective, Radke and Brock did some quick math to figure out that on a heavy travel ball weekend Radke could throw in the neighborhood of 50 innings.
"I get tired sometimes," Radke said. "I try not to show it on the mound. You need to keep your composure. … But my arm never seems to get tired. It's like rubber."
Mitchell baseball notches first no-hitter of 2010
The no-hitters that were the staple of Mitchell's 2009 season have been scarce with a revamped pitching staff still in development.
That changed against Gulf when senior Tim McCormick threw the Mustangs' first no-hitter of 2010.
McCormick used a nice mix of fastballs, curveballs and changeups to finish with nine strikeouts and one walk.
Mitchell coach Scot Wilcox stressed trying to get ahead of batters, and McCormick threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of the 23 batters he faced. Mitchell is 6-3; Gulf fell to 0-6.
"We have a lot of good arms, but we haven't ironed them out," Wilcox said. "We still have guys that need to prove themselves."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.