LAYTON If any team seemed to have Northridge's number this season, Weber had to be it. Both times the teams squared off in region play, the Warriors took a home a 3-0 victory on the strength of final-inning heroics.
Knights pitcher Chelsea Olsen made sure that scenario didn't happen a third time.
Olsen struck out nine batters and gave up a single hit in seven innings to power Northridge to a 1-0 victory over Weber in the quarterfinal round of the 5A softball tournament on Wednesday afternoon.
For the second straight game, Olsen delivered from the pitcher's circle. The Knights picked up a 2-0 first-round win over Lehi after she threw a no-hitter.
"She's on fire," Northridge coach Melissa Hone said. "In fact, she wasn't feeling all that well today. She came out and threw hard and gave it her best."
Hone said the wins over Lehi and Weber have been the best two-game stretch for her star pitcher so far this season.
Olsen gave an indication of how tough it would be for the Warriors on offense when she struck out the first five batters she faced. Abbie Lewis singled to finally break the drought in the second inning. But it turned out to be the only thing Weber would do at the plate.
Even when the Warriors managed to get a piece of a ball on a pitch or two, the Knights' defense led by third baseman Lindsey Christensen came through with some solid fielding to prevent Weber from getting on base.
"We couldn't be where we are today if we didn't have (good) defense," Olsen said.
Defense was a definite lifesaver for Northridge with Reilee O' Brien also enjoying a solid outing in the circle. O' Brien previously pitched the shutout in Weber's first win over the Knights.
This time around, she fanned seven batters while yielding only four hits.
"It was like a pitcher duel," Olsen said.
There is probably one pitch O' Brien would like to have back. With two outs and Christensen at third base in the bottom of the sixth, she only needed to strike out the next batter, which ironically enough was Olsen.
But O' Brien released a wild pitch that sailed past catcher Randee O'Brien. Olsen stepped aside as Christensen took off running and slid into home for the only run for either team.
Even with that 1-0 advantage, Northridge couldn't rest easy until Christensen's one-handed grab of a ball smacked up the third baseline produced the game's final out. They remembered too easily Weber made plays during the final inning to win both previous meetings between the two teams this season.
E-mail: [email protected]