By Michael Rich
It would be easy from afar to see the box scores and think the Delaware Hayes softball team will only go as far as senior standout Madi Huck will take it.
She is certainly talented enough to carry the Pacers.
But when the rest of the lineup is clicking the way it was in Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of Marion Harding in Delaware — 5-1 and 12-1 wins — Huck doesn’t have to be perfect.
There’s no doubt Huck is having a special season. She’s pitched 70 of 75 possible innings and allowed just 28 hits, including two home runs, 16 walks and just four runs (three earned) after the doubleheader against the Presidents (3-7).
“Freakin’ Huck is a workhorse on the mound,” Pacers coach Mark Thomas said.
Oh, and she has 126 strikeouts — a rate of 1.8 per inning, which included a 14-strikeout performance in the early game.
She has eight shutouts and three no-hitters — one was six innings and another was four.
Thomas credits second-year catcher Amaia Daniel as a big part of the team’s success this season.
“Daniel does a great job behind the plate,” he said. “Being a sophomore, her and Huck work well together.”
“We definitely have a good relationship,” Daniel said. “We’re, almost all of the time, on the same page whenever we’re calling pitches. She hardly ever shakes me off.”
Huck’s batting average actually went down to .618 after Saturday, despite going 2-for-4. She’s belted six homers and driven in 29 runs this season.
She was shut out of the RBI column in the first game for the first time all season, but got a hit in each game to continue her perfect 12 games this season with a hit.
“It’s been a really fun year,” Huck said. “It’s my senior year, so I’m really excited … I want to leave on a high note.”
Despite the gaudy numbers, she actually looked human Saturday. Any thoughts of another no-hitter were squashed early in both games. Thomas wasn’t going to use her in the afternoon game, but she asked to pitch.
The first batter of the day, N’Shay Scott, bunted for a hit and Hannah Jenner belted a seventh-inning homer over the centerfield wall to end a shutout bid.
Jenner took advantage of a first-inning error with a long double to right to drive in the lone run of the second game — ending any chance of a no-hitter and a shutout with one swing. Jenner’s two hits led the Presidents.
While the Pacers (12-0) didn’t play their best in the early game — at no point did the outcome seem in doubt.
That’s what makes them scary. Daniel amassed five hits in seven at-bats over the two games, which included four runs scored and another two knocked in.
“Even when I give up a run, it’s not that big of a deal because I know we’re going to score four or five more on top of that,” Huck said. “So, it does help when I’m pitching — I’m much more relaxed. I know I have a phenomenal team behind me, which is going to pick me up.”
Eight different Pacers recorded at least one hit in the first game and nine different players had a hit in the second.
Mackenzie Stonebraker hit a homer to left that left the yard so fast it didn’t have time to scream.
Mallory Stonebraker hit a double off the center field wall that was hit so hard, the wall screamed – one of two hits that produced three runs in the second game.
Lexi Mattix and Kaily Schuette had a hit and drove in a run in each game. Audrey Hannahs had a two-run triple and closed out the second game in the circle.
“We were hitting the ball all day and (Harding) made some great catches,” Thomas said. “Some of them fell and we took advantage and scored some runs.”
The Pacers started 14-0 in 2013 and will host Olentangy and Olentangy Orange and travel to Worthington Kilbourne Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in hopes of topping that feat. First pitch for all three games is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazete.