The sophomore registered her sixth no-hitter of the year and struck out 18 to lead the Lady Greyhounds to a 3-0 victory in a key Region 7AAAAA game that could go a long way in determining which teams take the top seeds for next week’s region tournament at Al Bishop Park in Marietta.
One run by Pope (17-5, 7-2) in each of the first three innings was more than enough for Barnhill, who struck out the side four times on the night against a Creekview offense that was never able to find its rhythm.
Pope coach Chris Turco couldn’t help but be pleased with his pitcher’s performance.
“She did awesome. She made me proud,” Turco said of Barnhill. “She got a little shaky in the second, but she regained control and got in her groove. She was great (Tuesday).”
After the Lady Greyhounds went up 2-0 in the first two innings, off RBI singles by Quentin Staton and Laura Miller, Barnhill found herself in a dangerous predicament.
After she hit Creekview’s Casee Disharoon with a pitch and walked Anna Tankersley, a wild pitch that slid behind the catcher to the fence allowed both runners to advance to second and third with no outs.
With Creekview (18-8, 7-2) close to leveling the score, Barnhill struck out the next three batters to end the only real scoring threat the Lady Grizzlies had all night.
Despite her performance, Barnhill was quick to credit the team, rather than herself.
“I felt we did a pretty good job at everything. It was a nice team effort,” Barnhill said. “We scored a few runs, which is always nice, and we had some great plays defensively as well.”
Creekview coach Chance Cain was disappointed with the Lady Grizzlies’ inability to score in the second inning.
“When someone pitches as good as (Barnhill) did (Tuesday), you have to make the most of your opportunities and get runners across the plate, and we didn’t do that,” Cain said. “They were the better team.”
Pope and Creekview, with identical region records, now trail leader Kell by one game. The Lady Greyhounds, however, now own the tiebreaker on the Lady Grizzlies for second.
Both teams have one region game remaining, with each facing Northview. Kell closes its region schedule with Sequoyah.
With their futures still uncertain, neither coach is willing to look beyond the rest of the regular season toward the playoffs.
“We have a game (today), and we have to take care of business,” Turco said of Pope’s home game with Northview. “It’s still possible for us to end the season and not be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, so we can’t afford to look ahead.”
Cain’s team will travel to Northview on Friday.
“After Friday, we will know where we stand, but until then, we just have to look at the next game,” he said. “We have to focus on coming out here, try to compete, and try to get better.”