McGowan, Colts overwhelm Senators
RENO — Wooster High School’s Brianne McGowan is generally regarded as the best pitcher in Northern 4A softball right now and possibly the best ever. Coach Dick Allen goes even further in ranking McGowan as one of the best high school softball players anywhere.
The junior certainly made a good case for herself on Saturday when she pitched back-to-back no-hitters and hit two game-breaking home runs as Wooster swept a doubleheader Carson, winning 4-0 and 12-0, in a showdown between Sierra League leaders.
“I think she’s the best player in the country overall. I really do when you consider what she does for this team,” said Allen, whose Colts are two-time defending 4A state champions. “She throws two no-hitters today, that’s how dominating she can be at times. She hits two home runs and drives in five runs. She tags and goes from first to second on a fly ball to left field. The kid’s incredible. She’s such a pleasure to coach and her teammates love her. I wouldn’t trade her for anybody.”
Very understandable considering Wooster is 11-0 in league and 25-2 overall, its only losses coming to Foothill of Tustin, Calif., then ranked No. 1 in the nation, and Deer Valley (Glendale, Ariz.). The Colts are currently listed No. 10 in USA Today’s national prep softball rankings
Now, here’s the scary part. Allen believes the Colts have room for improvement.
“Our No. 1 goal is always to qualify for the state tournament. Only two teams in the North qualify, so anything can happen,” Allen said. “We’re just going to keep working hard, work on fundamentals and do the things that will help us improve. We’re by no means where we want to be. We’ve still got a month to get better.”
McGowan struck out 17 and retired 21 of the 23 batters she faced in the opener. Carson’s only base runners came on two walks — Kayla Dunn in the first inning and Lindsay Perondi in the fifth — and neither got as far as second base. McGowan struck out 10 straight batters between the first and fourth innings.
“She’s the real deal,” Carson coach John Sullivan said. “I think I read some place that she’s one of the top two or three pitchers in the nation. She’s certainly a load.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Katie Stevens singled to lead off the first inning and scored on McGowan’s home run to left field to give Wooster a 2-0 lead. It was one of six hits allowed by Carson freshman Kayla Dunn, who pitched the distance.
“Kayla threw the ball real well,” Sullivan said. “The one bad pitch she had was a rise ball that didn’t come up and Brianne poked it out. She gave up six hits and three of those were infield balls that could have been outs.”
In the second game, Carson starter Brittany Puzey struck three straight batters to get through the first inning, but the Colts came back to score twice in the second. In the third, three-time all-state star Cindy Elkins walked and then McGowan reached for an outside pitch and, with a flick of her wrists, lined a home run over the center field fence.
That was all the support McGowan needed as she retired 15 of the 17 batters she faced, including nine more strikeouts. Perondi walked in the second and Katie Vidovich walked in the fifth to account for Carson’s base runners.
Wooster took advantage of seven Carson errors to score five runs in both the third and fourth innings. The game was called in the fifth due to the 10-run rule.
“We’re freshmen, sophomores and juniors, but you can’t really call us young anymore,” Sullivan said. “After halfway in the season, we’ve got to be able to make the routine plays. We had a couple of communication problems with our infielders and outfielders and we had a couple of throwing errors. We’ll come back and work hard on Monday to try and get those things straightened out.”
The Senators host North Valleys in a 3:30 p.m. league game on Tuesday.
“That’s a game, if we win it, we’re assured of the No. 4 spot at zone, so that’s probably the biggest game of the year for us,” Sullivan said.