NBL softball: Nadell, Hale, Ludlow lead way as Casa Grande blanks Santa Rosa, 4-0

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat Casa Grande's Courtney Ludlow throws a strike during a game against Santa Rosa on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat
Casa Grande’s Courtney Ludlow throws a strike during a game against Santa Rosa on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

PETALUMA — After failing to score through five innings, Casa Grande batted around in the sixth and defeated Santa Rosa, 4-0, on Thursday.

Sophomores Lisa Nadell and Alexus Hale did the damage as each came up with two RBIs. Nadell hit a ground-rule double to open the scoring and four batters later, Hale’s single to left field knocked in the final two runs.

The uprising came after the Gauchos’ Courtney Ludlow and Santa Rosa’s Denia Vera had each pitched five innings of shutout ball.

Ludlow finished up by allowing only two hits while Vera gave up the four runs and 11 hits.

“This was one of the best-pitched games of the season for me,” Ludlow said. “I was able to hit my spots and keep the ball low.”

Holding the Santa Rosa bats in check is no easy task. The Panthers came into the game with a team batting average of .324. It was the second time in 20 games they’ve been blanked and the loss snapped a six-game win streak.

The win came 48 hours after Casa played one of its worst games of the year, losing at Ukiah, 6-5.

The Gauchos committed three errors and made a handful of mental mistakes in that game.

“Losing at Ukiah was a huge setback for us,” coach Joanna Martin said. “We didn’t play our game. None of us had a good feeling after that game.”

Martin told her players to learn from their mistakes and focus on the rest of the season.

The team worked hard at practice on Wednesday and the focus carried over to game day.

“I knew we were ready,” Nadell said. “We didn’t forget what happened in the Ukiah game but we put it behind us.”

Nadell’s big hit came on a two-strike change-up from Vera.

“I was looking for that pitch,” the third baseman said. “It seemed like every time their pitcher got two strikes on a batter, the change-up was her go-to pitch.

“I was waiting for it, but I still hit it off my front leg. I knew it was over the left fielder’s head when it left my bat.

Heather Zeeb and Ludlow were on second and third when Nadell doubled. Zeeb opened the inning with a single and Ludlow followed with a two-bagger.

Leadoff batter Sara Langdon went three for four, all singles. The junior raised her average to .417. Right fielder Hale also had a multi-hit game going two-for-three.

The win improves the Gauchos to 6-4 in NBL and 12-8 overall.

Santa Rosa is 7-4 in league and 14-6 overall.

Vera and Taylor Matthews got the only hits for the visitors.

“We didn’t swing the bats,” Panthers coach Jeff Pratt said. “The way the game was going, I thought the first team to score would win. It turned out to be Casa.”

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