NCS softball: Cardinal Newman shuts out Fort Bragg


Pitchers Kazja Fa’agata Averbuck and Hailey Eisenhauer combined on a shutout as Cardinal Newman defeated visiting Fort Bragg, 5-0, in a NCS Division 4 opening-round game on Tuesday.

Eisenhauer came on in the fifth inning with two runners on base and no outs. She struck out the side and then held Fort Bragg to a single the rest of the way.

Newman (12-12), the No. 8 seed, will travel to Clear Lake (19-2), the division’s top seed, on Friday. Clear Lake had an opening-round bye.

While Averbuck and Eisenhauer were keeping No. 9 Fort Bragg scoreless, the Cardinals broke through against Timberwolves starter Cassidy Lowe in the third.

Averbuck was a hit by a pitch to open the inning. The freshman stole second and third and came home on Kayla Douglas’ sacrifice fly to right field.

Newman added another run in the fourth when Eisenhauer led off with a single and took second after the ball was misplayed in the outfield. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Guilia Geary and came home on Helen Moses Happ’s sacrifice fly to left.

The Cardinals put up two more in the fifth. Averbuck opened the inning with a double down the left-field line. She wound up scoring on one of two errors by the third baseman. The second run crossed the plate after an errant pick-off throw.

It was the first time Fort Bragg had been shut out in 19 games. The T’wolves had seven hits, all singles, and stranded eight. They also made six errors.

“We just didn’t hit,” coach Rita Hanover said.

The wind blowing in from the outfield was a factor.

“Balls to the outfield were just hanging up,” Eisenhauer said. “I wasn’t worried about the Fort Bragg batters hitting the ball deep because the wind was so strong. I just concentrated on throwing strikes and letting my teammates make plays.”

Newman coach Mark Cooper prepared his team to play small ball.
“In practice this week, we concentrated on bunting and slapping the ball on the ground,” he said. “Turned out we needed to play that brand of ball because of the wind.”

Averbuck said she started only three games this year, but was excited to get the ball in a playoff game.

“The girls have different styles, so it worked out well,” Cooper said. “Averbuck has good control and a natural drop on her ball. Eisenhauer has more pop and it looked like the Fort Bragg batters had trouble catching up to her pitches.”

Cherie Ryden, Brianna Johnson and Veronica Huerta had two hits apiece for Fort Bragg.
Jill Klein was 2-for-4 for the Cardinals.

Fort Bragg (12-7), the third-place finisher in the North Central League-I, lost to Clear Lake twice.

When asked about the Friday matchup with Newman, Hanover said:

“Clear Lake is the better team. They pitch well and hit the ball well.”

Newman (formerly Ursuline) is playing in Division 4 for the first time.

“We’ve always played up a division,” Cooper said. “We thought NCS would automatically put us in Division 3 and didn’t fill out the necessary paperwork. By the time we learned that paperwork was needed, the deadline had passed.”