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Gaisior keeps East Juniata bats at bay

Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN Juniata’s Liz Gaisior, right, slides safely into second under a tag attempt by East Juniata shortstop Macy Buskey during their Tri-Valley League softball game Thursday at East Juniata.

COCOLAMUS — No matter the circumstances, Juniata softball pitcher Liz Gaisior had all the ingredients necessary for a complete-game shutout of rival East Juniata on Thursday.

The Indians (9-7) beat the Tigers, 6-0, thanks to Gaisior’s performance on the mound and timely hits throughout the Tri-Valley League contest.

In seven innings, Gaisior struck out 12 Tigers, allowed four hits and even danced around trouble with runners on base.

With the double-digit strikeouts, the sophomore has 186 total Ks this season — just two shy of the TVL single-season record, set by Shannon Lubold of Upper Dauphin in 2000. Her career total, now 419, is 11 shy of third all-time in league history.

“Liz did great today. She owned the strike zone and hit her spots,” Juniata coach Erin Cressman said. “She’s worked really hard and she’s ready for these moments. Liz wants to win and she goes out there and throws her best stuff.”

In the third frame, East Juniata had runners on second and third base. But, the southpaw fanned a Tiger, which brought the inning to a close.

The Tigers also had a runner on third in the sixth inning, but Gaisior got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

“She digs in. She’s very competitive and doesn’t want the other team to score at all. When runners are getting on she rises to the challenge. Our defense made a couple good plays behind her, too. That always gives you confidence as a pitcher,” Cressman said about Gaisior keeping runners at bay. “It’s hard not to take her for granite sometimes, because she comes everyday and does it.”

Gaisior finds comfort in not concerning herself with the runners on base.

“I feel I do best when I don’t think about that. What’s best for me is that I focus on my job, competing at the plate and hitting all my spots,” Gaisior said. “I don’t tend to worry about who’s on base.”

Juniata’s Shay Armstrong and Chey Kirk each went 3-for-4 in the road contest. Navi Jackson added two hits of her own and Regan Lowry hit a towering drive over the left-center field fence for a solo homer in the seventh inning.

“It definitely helps a lot, because one person can’t do everything. I’m very thankful that I had them behind me tonight. Everybody did well. They squared up the ball and did what they needed to do,” Gaisior said about her teammates mashing the softball.

As for East Juniata, Brenna Watts pitched a complete game, while striking out eight Indians and giving up five earned runs.

Annika Martin went 2-3 with a double and she stole a base for the Tigers.

Despite a tough home loss, East Juniata can take some positive notes about facing Juniata.

“The difference between last game and this game was we actually put the bat on the ball. We were able to make some contact and get hits off of Gaisior,” East Juniata coach Lauren Cheran said. “They (Juniata) got hits and found the gaps. They scored runs when they needed to and we couldn’t pull that off.”

Cheran added that the competition has challenged her team.

“Just the experience of playing against good quality players. They (East Juniata) have the confidence and they have the talent to play well. I think playing in the league overall gives us good games. It’s a good experience in the batter’s box and on the field,” Cheran said.

Today, Juniata hosts Susquenita. East Juniata travels to Halifax Monday.

Juniata 6, East Juniata 0

Juniata 201 200 1 — 6-13-1

East Juniata 000 000 0 — 0-4-1

WP: Liz Gaisior. LP: Brenna Watts. SO: Gaisior 12 (J); Watts 7 (EJ). BB: Watts 1 (EJ). HR: Regan Lowry (J). 2B: Navi Jackson, Gaisior (J); Annika Martin (EJ). MH: Shay Armstrong 3-4, Chey Kirk 3-4, Jackson 2-4 (J), Martin 2-3 (EJ). RBI: Jackson 1, Gaisior 1, Kirk 1, Lowry 1, Lexi Frontz (J).

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