Kaneland’s Anissa Becker outduels West Aurora’s Kaylee Hayton

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Each pitcher threw a gem, unfortunately one had to lose.

Sophomore Anissa Becker prevailed 1-0 Monday over junior Kaylee Hayton as visiting Kaneland edged West Aurora in a non-conference

softball game that was moved because the Knights’ field wasn’t ready for play after overnight rains.

”That was a real nail-biter. She’s the first good pitcher we’ve seen all year and it was hard to adjust (to a faster thrower),” Kaneland catcher Paige Kuefler said of Hayton, who went the distance and threw a four hitter with eight strikeouts and no walks.

Becker (3-1) went 6 1/3 innings before coach Brian Willis called on Ellissa Eckert to get the final two outs with the tying and winning

runs on base. Eckert struck out a batter and got another on a fly to center to record the save for the Knights (6-1).

Hayton retired the first 10 batters she faced before Kaneland shortstop Allyson O’Herron hit a one-out single in the fourth. She

stole second and came home on a two-out single by centerfielder Lanie Callaghan for the only score of the game.

Becker gave up four hits, struck out four and walked one. She also retired 10 batters in a row in a stretch between the third and sixth innings.

Kuefler, a sophomore who hit over .500 last season, struck out twice before finally solving Hayton for a sixth-inning double, but was

stranded.

“It was hard to adjust,” said Kuefler. “Timing is one thing we really have to work on as a team. Usually, with a slower pitcher you’re waiting a lot. With a faster pitcher (like Hayton, you’re reacting and you have to have your hands coming through the (hitting)

zone faster.

“(Hayton) had a lot of movement, too. She throws a lot of different pitches.”

Gianna Drager had two hits to lead the Blackhawks, who got only one runner to third — leadoff batter Ally Wayzer, who walked in the

first but was stranded.

Hayton led off the seventh with a shot over Callaghan’s head to the fence in center, but she made a good play and fired to O’Herron

who tagged Hayton out.

Molly Jordon reached on an error and Taylor Podschweit singled between short and third but Eckert then ended the threat.

“Those first few innings (Hayton) was on, she was as good as she’s been,” West coach Rarndy Hayslett said. “It was a great game. They

made some plays on us and our defense rose to the occasion.

“That was a great throw from center. I thought that was a sure double. It was a game that, truly, no one deserved to lose. You tip

your cap to ’em, they came up with the big, two-out hit.”

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