Mattie Havas was asked what was more fun: pitching a two-hit shutout or hitting two home runs and driving in five runs during Houston Academy’s 8-0 victory over Providence Christian on Thursday at the Westgate Softball Complex?
“Honestly, what was most exciting to me was how well my defense backed me up,” Havas said. “They have been on top of it this season and it makes me confident as a pitcher to be able to throw strikes and know that my defense has my back no matter what.”
Nothing could display that better than when left fielder Mary Suzan Aman robbed Camille Palmer of a home run in the top of the sixth when she caught the ball while falling over the short fence in left field.
“I was so proud of Mary Suzan,” Havas said. “She’s worked so hard as only an eighth grader, too. She’s really shown out.”
In the bottom of the inning, Havas put the game away by blasting a three-run shot to make it the final 8-0 tally.
“I’m really proud of her,” Houston Academy coach Sharon Cherry said. “We’ve been working really hard; pitching extra. We hit every single day rain or shine. We’re lucky to have covered cages, so we make sure to get our swings in.”
It marked the second win for Houston Academy over Providence Christian in as many tries this season. On March 3, the Raiders rallied for five runs in the last inning to beat the Eagles 8-4 in the Class 3A, Area 4 contest.
On Thursday, the Raiders put the first two runs on the board in the third inning off reliever Emma Houston, who had entered the circle with two outs in the bottom of the first after starter Katelyn Collins was hit in the left leg by a line drive off the bat of Havas and was unable to continue.
With runners at first and second and one out, Havas singled into left field to bring in Aman for the first run of the game. With Havas at first and Jaysoni Fowler at third, Caley Caldwell dropped a perfect bunt down the first base line, allowing Fowler to easily score the second run.
In the bottom of the fifth, Fowler got into a pitch and sent it high over the fence in left-center field for a two-run homer. Havas then followed with a solo homer to make it 5-0.
The Raiders put it away for good in the sixth when Havas homered with Aman and Fowler on first and second to make it an 8-0 score. Houston Academy had 12 hits in the game.
Havas went the distance — allowing only singles to Palmer in the first inning and Emma Williams in the third. She recorded seven strikeouts and walked three.
The Raiders were coming off a 10-0 loss to Slocomb in an area game on Tuesday.
Cherry said it was important for her team to put that defeat behind them quickly.
“We had seven walks, six errors and we had two hits,” Cherry said of the Slocomb game. “Now, you saw how my kids can hit the ball. Sometimes, you can just be snake bit. You put that game behind you.
“We had a very good practice yesterday (Wednesday). A team of character will come out and rise to the occasion and a team that doesn’t believe in itself will come out and not play well.”
The Raiders played very well against Providence. With the uncertainly of the season ahead due to the coronavirus, Cherry knows every game is important in case there is a mandated stoppage.
“It was a big win,” Cherry said. “We actually talked about that as coaches, that we need to get as many area ball games in as we can.”