Sammie Byron gets the shutout in mercy-rule win over Sunset

Sandy pitcher Sammie Byron threw a near-perfect game to lead the Pioneers to a 10-0 victory over Sunset on Tuesday. She allowed just one hit and two base runners in the complete-game shutout.

Just another day at the office for Byron.

“Sammie worked very hard in the offseason,” Sandy coach Kellie Wilkerson said. “She is controlling her pitches and she has more speed. With her head and her mental control, she can do whatever she wants. I’ll say right now, she is one of the best pitchers in 5A.”

Sunset catcher Dakota Stewart grounded a single up the middle in the top of the first inning and then stole second base. That was the extent of the Apollos’ offense.

After the Stewart single, Byron retired the next eight batters. Stewart walked when she came back up, but was thrown out by Sandy catcher Rachel Rutledge as she attempted to steal another base. Aside from Stewart, no Sunset player reached base.

With Byron overpowering Sunset’s hitters, the stage was set for Sandy’s offense to come through – and it did. Third baseman Chelsea Spanier sparked a series of clutch hits for the Pioneers when she settled into the batters’ box in the fourth inning. With Sandy leading 2-0, Spanier smoked a two-out single through the infield to bring in two runs.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Spanier said. “I thought if I could put the ball in play, it would force the defense to make a play, and the ball went through.”

Spanier picked up where she left off in the bottom of the fifth inning when she again came to the plate with two outs. With the pressure on once more, Spanier ripped a two-run double.

Spanier’s double put the Pioneers up 7-0, and they weren’t finished. Rutledge brought Spanier home with a double in the gap. Raquel Pellecer came up and drove in Rutledge with a single to center field. Pellecer advanced to second base on a throwing error. Tiffany Neumann then popped a blooper into right field which allowed Pellecer to dart home. Pellecer’s run gave Sandy a 10-0 lead, and therefore brought the mercy rule into play to end the game. In the fifth inning, the Pioneers got four hits and five runs with two outs.

“We had been leaving too many runners on base, so we’ve been working on getting timely hits,” Wilkerson said. “We have really been focusing on getting line drives and base hits in practice, and it is working out.”

Spanier led Sandy by going 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs. Rutledge went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple and she reached base in all four plate appearances.

The combination of Byron in the pitchers’ circle and Sandy’s potent offense has turned the Pioneers into one of the most dangerous teams in the state. The win against Sunset was Sandy’s fourth straight shutout and ninth consecutive win overall.

During the nine-game win streak, the Pioneers have outscored their opponents 60-4.

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