SOFTBALL ROUNDUP — Loggers, Warriors hold serve as exciting race continues

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Eureka’s Maeghan Hampton and Tahlyia Curtice react during Wednesday’s Big 5 game against Fortuna.

By Ray Hamill — Kira Morris threw a second no-hitter in eight days on Wednesday, as the Eureka Loggers and Del Norte Warriors remain deadlocked atop the Big 5 standings heading into the final two days of the regular season.

Morris threw seven shutout innings to lead the Eureka girls to a 2-0 win over Fortuna at Washington Elementary, but the Warriors kept pace with an 8-5 win in eight innings at Arcata.

The two league frontrunners are both 8-2 in the Big 5 with two games remaining each.

The Warriors will close out with a doubleheader at home to Arcata on Thursday, with the Loggers playing two games at Fortuna on Friday.

Morris, who also threw a no-hitter against Del Norte last Wednesday, was on fire again against the Huskies and didn’t allow a walk while striking out 11.

The Huskies got just two players on base all game, both on Eureka errors.

“She’s been in the zone and doing what she can do and hitting her spots,” Eureka head coach Robin Johnson said of the senior standout.

Fortuna freshman Isabel Sanchez was almost as good, pitching a complete-game two-hitter as she continues to establish herself as one of the top young pitchers in the H-DN.

Sanchez struck out 11 and showcased her control with just three walks.

Morris had one of those hits and scored what would be the winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the second.

For good measure, the Eureka senior also drove in her team’s second run, scoring Zia Gee from third on a sac fly in the third.

Catcher Maeghan Hampton also had a hit in the win, as the Loggers improved to 11-6 overall.

The Loggers honored their eight seniors before the game, a deep and talented class that includes Morris, Gee, Hampton, Mariah Napoleon, Tahlyia Curtice, Kirsten Simpson, Ileah Brannon and Taliyah Cooper.

“This is my second senior class and it’s nice to see them grow up and all their improvement,” Johnson said. “And to see them teaching the younger players.”

Defensively for Fortuna, Zoe Dewberry prevented another Eureka run from scoring when she sprinted deep into left center field for a catch and then doubled a Logger runner off at second base.

At Arcata, meanwhile, the Tigers gave the league-leading Warriors all they could handle and almost pulled off an upset in the bottom of the seventh.

“I’m really proud of how this came together today,” Arcata head coach Steve Sarchett said. “We had the chance to turn the league on its head and we gave it a great try. I’m just sad that it had to end that way.”

The Tigers also honored their seniors before the game, a class that includes Morgan Ford, Sagen Sarchett and Taylor Appy, and all three responded with a strong game.

“My seniors are the heartbeat of the team,” the head coach said.

Ford led the Tigers at the plate with three hits and scored a pair of runs, while Appy had two hits and Sagen Sarchett hit the ball well.

Jessica Kaber also had two hits for Arcata, while Lexi Alto had a key base hit late in the game.

No stats were immediately available for Del Norte.

Thursday’s and Friday’s league-deciding doubleheaders are both scheduled for 2 p.m.

If the Loggers and Warriors share the league title, they will play a tie-breaking game at Eureka on Monday to decide which of them gets the league’s automatic North Coast Section berth and the top seed and an opening-round bye in the Charlie Lakin tournament.

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