SYRACUSE — Abby Sims, the senior ace and right-handed pitcher for Syracuse High softball, had a problem.
Northridge had runners on second and third with only one out it the top of the first inning Saturday.
But Sims got Bryn Williams on a pop out to first baseman Rachel Godfrey and struck out Faith Petersen to avert the crisis during the two teams' series-opening game in the 6A state tournament.
“I had confidence I could get them out. I’m definitely an attitude pitcher," Sims said. "I don’t let anything get to me; nothing really fazes me. You don’t want to be behind in the first inning — no, never.”
When the Titans put up eight runs in the bottom of the first, it was basically game over.
Game one went to No. 11 Syracuse in a 13-0, run-rule count and, in a new format to the playoffs, the Titans will face No. 22 Northridge again Monday in game two of the best-of-three series.
The two had just squared off in a makeup contest Tuesday, with Sims in the circle, and while the Titans prevailed, she struggled in an 8-5 win. Sims has a scholarship to Colby Community College in Kansas and pitched like a next-level player in dominating the Knights on Saturday.
She threw the complete-game shutout, striking out nine, walking only one and allowed three hits — only one after the first inning.
“On Tuesday, I didn’t have my A-game so I wanted to come out today to show them what I’m capable of, what my team is capable of,” Sims said. “I knew we could do it.”
The Titans’ eight-run first inning started in an unusual way, when they plated the first five runs without a hit. There were four walks, two batters hit by pitches, a wild pitch, stolen base and a sacrifice fly hit by Brielle Milius. All runs came with two outs.
Then sophomore Erin Anderson — the coach’s kid — grounded a two-run, bases loaded single up the middle to make it 7-0 and the Titans (12-9) were rolling.
“I just wanted to be aggressive and hit it hard somewhere; drive runs in,” Anderson said. “We know we can hit, we just gotta do what we can do.”
After that, the Titans kind of put their bats in the rack and turned it over to Sims, as they went scoreless the next two innings.
Northridge (5-19) shortstop Delaney Robinson single-handedly retired the Titans on three grounders in the second and saved a run with a diving catch in the third.
If the game wasn’t already on ice, a five-run fourth inning erased any doubt.
“In the fourth, we went back to what we originally wanted to do, then we started putting it into play,” Syracuse coach Kelly Anderson said. “When we go with the plan in the batter’s box, good things happen.”
Chloe Orton had an RBI double in the inning and Milius and McKhal Johnston delivered run-scoring singles.
The teams will play for the fourth time overall Monday, with a Syracuse win ending the series. A Northridge win would bring the series-decider immediately after.
And Sims will be back toeing the rubber for the Titans.
“Abby’s been a workhorse all year; we’re riding her to the end,” Kelly Anderson said. “She’s put in a lot of time, a lot of work and it’s starting to pay off.”