So far this season, the McKinleyville Panthers are living up to expectations and taking care of business.
On Saturday, they maintained their perfect start to the season with two more wins on the way to claiming the championship at their own tournament.
The Panthers, who got contributions from throughout the lineup, are now 5-0 and gradually building momentum.
“Honestly, what I’m happiest about is everyone contributed something this weekend,” said head coach Shanna McCracken, whose team also won a tournament game on Friday. “There were a lot of highlights.”
Including a no-hitter from pitcher McKenzie Gonsalves in a 13-0 win over Lower Lake on Saturday morning.
As well as a Grace Rosebrook inside-the-park grand slam in a 17-1 win over Trinity on Friday, and another solid pitching effort from Mikayla Minton in an 11-1 win over St. Bernard’s on Saturday afternoon to clinch the tournament.
“They performed well,” the head coach said. “I’m seeing a lot of good things.”
The Panthers have outscored their first five opponents by a combined 72-4, and have yet to allow more than one run in any of their games.
No-hitter for Gonsalves
Gonsalves struck out five in the four-inning shutout against Lower Lake, walking just one batter, and getting plenty of help from her offense.
The Panthers had nine hits in the win, from eight different players.
Jaycee Morais led the way with two hits including a triple, and four RBIs, while Morgan Viale had a big pinch-hit triple and drove home two runs.
Olivia Alves added a double, to go with the home run she hit on Friday, and drove in two runs, while Cassidy Randall was 1-for-1 with a double.
Rosebrook, Minton, Lexi White and Ashley Ballew each also had a hit, with two RBIs for White and one for Minton.
Against St. Bernard’s, the Panthers had just five hits, but made them count, and again showed their depth with five different players contributing.
Minton had a triple and an RBI, while, Rosebrook had a double and four RBIs.
White also had a double, while Allie Egbert and Mckenna Turner each also had a hit and an RBI.
Randall also drove home a run, as the host team scored seven runs in the fifth to pull away and end the game.
Minton pitched five innings for the win, allowing six hits, while striking out eight and giving up just one earned run.
Crusaders open the season
St. Bernard’s also played three games at the tournament, defeating Trinity 14-0 before losing to Lower Lake (8-0) and McKinleyville.
“We played McKinleyville really well up until we ran out of gas,” St. Bernard’s head coach Alan Borges said. “Even though we lost 11-1, we pretty much played against their No. 1 team and we hit the heck out of the ball. We just made some defensive errors.”
A young Crusaders team was playing its first games of the season, and is now 1-2.
Ally Del Grande pitched the first two games for the Crusaders, dominating Trinity in the opener, and helping her own cause by going 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs.
Freshman Emma Wilson had a big showing in her first varsity game, finishing 2-for-2, while senior Calissa Stokesberry was also 2-for-2.
In game one on Saturday, Del Grande led the way at the plate again with a pair of hits.
Going up against one of the Big 5 favorites on Saturday afternoon, the young St. Bernard’s bats didn’t back down, with Wilson and Stokesberry each hitting a double.
Mackenzie Finck, Alyssa Liles and Rachel Rodrigues each had a hit.
The coach also paid tribute to Stokesberry, who was pitching for the first time at the high school level and held a dangerous Mack offense in check for much of the game.
The Crusaders play at Arcata on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are not scheduled to play again until their league opener against Del Norte in two weeks, but McCracken is hoping to line up three games before then.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.