LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — At the pace Flintridge Prep pitcher Denise van der Goot began Tuesday's nonleague softball game against visiting Glendale, she seemed intent on getting through the afternoon without letting the Nitros put a ball in play.
But, with her pitch count rising after striking out the side in the first three innings, van der Goot began to rely on her defense over the latter half of the Rebels' 4-0 win that saw Prep strike for two runs in the first inning and two more in the sixth.
"It's much more tiring to strike everyone out, especially if they are fouling off a lot [of pitches]," said van der Goot, who allowed just one hit, walked one and finished with 14 strikeouts. "It's nice that I have my fielders that I can trust to back me up and get those plays."
Glendale pitcher Casey Ramirez was able to keep the game close, allowing one earned run on seven hits with five strikeouts, but was hurt by four Nitros errors on the day. Still, a game extending past the fifth inning, loss or not, was a welcome sight for a Glendale squad that's winless start has featured more than one double-digit margin of defeat.
"It was a pitching duel for the most part, but more importantly, a vast improvement from our past few games," said Glendale Coach Christine Paknik, whose team slipped to 0-5. "We've had a rough start, so it was nice to see them come together and for Casey to go a full game."
Kelly Wang got things started for Prep (2-1) in the bottom of the first with a single to center field and scored on a fielding error, one of two Rebels to do so in the two-hit frame.
Glendale wouldn't get its first base runner until the third inning — on a dropped third strike — and didn't get its only hit until the fifth, yet the game remained tight, as the Rebels stranded five base runners over the first five innings.
"She was doing a great job, but don't let that fool you," Prep Coach Julie Jaime said of van der Goot. "Us coaches, we knew that it was only a two-run [game]. [Ramirez] did a good job of keeping us off-balance and shut us down offensively."
After making 28 pitches to four batters in the third inning, van der Goot began pitching to contact in the fourth and retired the side on 10 pitches with three infield groundouts.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Sydney Golombeck reached on an error and scored on a triple to right field by Wang for a 3-0 lead.
Next batter Jenna Galper knocked a single up the middle to score Wang and Ashley Kim's two-out single back up the middle put Galper in scoring position at third base before Ramirez snared a line drive back over the pitcher's mound to escape the inning.
"It's nice going into the final inning when you're not stressed out," van der Goot said of the extra cushion she took into the seventh.
Meghan Spencer worked a one-out walk in the seventh and Kristi Cabana took second base on a wild pitch after getting aboard on a fielder's choice, but van der Goot came through with a strikeout to end the game.
"They didn't give up," Paknik said. "They kept hitting and going at the ball, so it was nice to see."