No question about it

CAREY – The fate of the game was in question all afternoon. But everyone at Carey pulled through and got the job done.

After storms saturated the area early Monday morning, Carey officials made sure the field was in good shape and Monday afternoon’s sectional tournament game against Ridgemont wouldn’t be a washout.

As for the outcome of the game, those questions were answered early. When Carey’s Ali Rymer struck out the side in the top of the first, it sent a message that it was going to be tough for Ridgemont to get much offense off her all day.

Rymer struck out seven in a five-hit shutout, as Carey picked up a 6-0 decision over the Golden Gophers.

Carey now plays Thursday at Arcadia against the Redskins for a Division IV sectional title.

“Feels pretty good,” first-year Carey coach Teresa Jacoby said after her first tournament win. “We’ve worked hard. We’ve been on a roll this last week so it feels great to get the first win under our belt. I told the girls we got to go one game at a time, and tonight was a start.”

Rymer’s start turned out to be superb.

The senior began the year splitting time of the circle with Sydney Wentling, but after Wentling broke a finger, Rymer elevated her game to another level.

“She’s been throwing strong all year,” Jacoby said. “With great defense behind her, she’s really been hitting her spots well. She stepped up big when Sydney got hurt and she’s just been throwing well.”

According to Ridgemont coach Emily Smith, there was a specific spot she kept hitting and the Gophers couldn’t catch up.

“She was hitting that outside corner. I don’t like that outside corner,” Smith said. “Some umpires don’t call it and he was calling consistently that outside corner.”

Rymer rarely found herself in trouble Monday. But when she did, her pitching and the defense behind her got out of it.

In the fourth inning Rymer gave up a one-out double to Sydney Toten, but came back with a strikeout and ground out to second to end the inning. In the fifth Ridgemont’s Aislinn McCullough led off with a triple. But, she was erased from the basepaths after Carey shortstop Hannah Draper made a leaping catch on a line drive, and doubled McCullough off third.

And again in the seventh, a leaping catch by leftfielder Raven Moloney kept a run off the board and preserved the shutout.

“I felt really good,” Rymer said. “I was hitting all my spots and I had a defense behind me that could get almost all the balls.”

Ridgemont’s Sara McFadden pitched strong as well, but didn’t have the defensive backing Rymer did.

Carey struck first in the second. Draper singled and reached second on a throwing error. She got to third on Dani Berardinelli-Clark’s single and scored after Rymer’s sac fly to second. Berardinelli-Clark made it a 2-0 Carey lead scoring off a wild pitch.

The score stayed the same until the fifth when Carey broke it open, again, thanks in part to Ridgemont errors.

Taylor Fletcher singled to center to score Makenzie Wentling. Abby Hall also came around after a Ridgemont throwing error.

“I thought we actually played pretty well except for the two innings that we made little bloopers when we weren’t thinking about our plays and overthrew the ball,” Smith said. “But overall, I’m glad they didn’t give up. They actually played until the last out.”

Berardinelli-Clark drove in the game’s final runs with a single that scored Fletcher and Draper later that inning.

The six runs were more than enough cushion for Rymer, but both she and Jacoby admitted the extra insurance runs made things a bit easier.

“There’s still pressure to have to pitch and hit your spots and all that, but to know that we have a little lead gives me a little leeway to not have to pitch all my locations,” Rymer said.

“It’s always good to get a cushion,” Jacoby added. “We struggled early on, had a hard time timing up. But we got the timing down when we needed to. We got that little rally that inning, gave them a little bit of a boost.”

Carey, now winners of eight straight, looks to keep its momentum going into a league game Wednesday against Fremont St. Joe, and Thursday’s sectional final at Arcadia. Jacoby says her team’s offense has been key to its recent hot streak.

“Our bats came alive,” she said. “We’ve been hitting well. We’ve been playing good defense all year, but our bats have really come a long ways.”