Nelson strikes out 24 as Panthers roll to 5-0

The Panther’s star player nearly blanked Stadium High.

Brooke Nelson was untouchable against the Stadium Tigers, striking out 24 batters and walking one, earning her third no-hitter of the season. KEVIN HANSON PHOTO

Brooke Nelson was untouchable against the Stadium Tigers, striking out 24 batters and walking one, earning her third no-hitter of the season. KEVIN HANSON PHOTO

Andrew Sage has been around long enough to shy away from making bold predictions. But he knows what he likes, and he likes what he sees in this year’s Bonney Lake High softball team.

“It’s a very seasoned group,” he said, “and the team has great potential.” That’s about as far as Sage wants to go when asked about his undefeated squad.

Through games of a rainy last week, the Panthers were 5-0 for the season, including wins in their two Pierce County League contests.

Perhaps that’s not a huge surprise, considering a handful of key players are back from a team that reached the state Class 3A semifinals a season ago, placing fourth.

This season’s numbers tell a tale of dominance. In running to five straight wins, the Panthers outscored their opponents 41-1.

The only close encounter was game No. 5, which had even a veteran coach like Sage shaking his head.

“In 23 years of coaching, I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said. He was referring to the pitching performance of junior Brooke Nelson, who once again simply overwhelmed anyone who dared to step to the plate.

The game resulted in a 2-0 Panther victory over Stadium High that required eight innings. Nelson was awesome, striking out 24 of the 25 hitters she faced. The only blemish was a walk to the game’s leadoff hitter. Panther infielders and outfielders did not have to make a defensive play.

Nelson proved to be the offensive hero, too. In the bottom of the eighth, Raelyn Kimmel got aboard with her second hit of the game, then advanced on a passed ball. After listening to her coach’s advice – just relax, a hit will win the game – Nelson crushed a pitch over the outfield fence for the walk-off victory.

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