A great day in the field: Westwood Patriots’ Karlie Patron tosses 1st no-hitter on cool, wet day in Manistique

Westwood’s Karlie Patron, left, winds up to pitch during a high school softball game played Wednesday at Manistique. Patron threw her first career no-hitter in a 15-0 shutout win as the second game was called due to rain. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Austin Hemmingson)

“We didn’t even talk about it during the game, and all of a sudden, boom — there it is.” — Jared Koski, Westwood softball head coach, on Karlie Patron’s no-hitter

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By AUSTIN HEMMINGSON

Escanaba Daily Press

MANISTIQUE — The weather wasn’t great, but that didn’t stop Westwood pitcher Karlie Patron from being that way.

Westwood's Karlie Patron, right, slides home safely ahead of the tag of Manistique's Raya Twardokus during a high school softball game played Wednesday at Manistique. The second game of the scheuled doubleheader was called due to rain. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Austin Hemmingson)

Patron tossed her first career no-hitter in the Patriots’ 15-0 win over Manistique in a high school softball game played here Wednesday afternoon.

The teams attempted to start a second game, but it was called after almost two innings due to rain. The Patriots led 6-4 when play was stopped.

In the opener, a few Emeralds’ runners reached base on walks or errors, but none were able to get a hit in the Mid-Peninsula Conference opener for both teams.

Patron was congratulated by coach Jared Koski and her teammates when Koski announced she had just thrown her first no-hitter after the game was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.

“I’ve come close to a no-hitter before, but this is my first one,” Patron said. “I feel good … I feel like because I’ve worked really hard at pitching and softball in general, being able to throw a no-hitter makes me feel like my hard work has paid off.”

She thought the wind helped make her pitches more lively.

“I think the wind helped because I could spin my pitches a certain way and it made my pitches spin faster … so I could get a lot of movement on my pitches.”

Koski thought she also hit her spots well.

“She was really hitting her locations and the strike zone was a little bit different than what she expected,” he said. “She really likes to rely on the low pitch a lot of times, but she made an adjustment right away after throwing some pitches that are accustomed to her thinking they’re strikes.”

Patron said the no-hitter possibility wasn’t even on her mind until Koski brought it up in the third inning.

“I didn’t even realize it. I was thinking about it a little bit in maybe like the third inning when Coach Koski said something about them not having a hit yet.”

Her next goal?

“A perfect game, definitely,” she said.

Koski said the Patriots have relied on her in the past and will continue to rely on her moving forward.

“She’s pitched a lot of games in her career,” he said. “She’s really the staple of our pitching program at Westwood right now and we’re gonna use her to be our primary pitcher most of the time. It was a joy to be able to watch her do that.”

It was also a first for the Patriots’ new coaching staff.

“This the first conference game our coaching staff has ever coached. It’s like hitting a home run in your first at-bat … now what? It was great to see and great to be a part of,” Koski said. “All the other girls came off the field and I said to them, ‘Do you guys realize what just happened? We pitched a no-hitter’ and they were like ‘All right, Karlie!’

“We didn’t even talk about it during the game, and all of a sudden, boom — there it is.”

Brooke Richey took the loss for Manistique, also going a full five innings.

The Emeralds (1-3 overall) struggled to get much offense going under first-year coach Hank Richey.

“They stuck with it. They had some good hacks at it, but we didn’t hit the ball like we did in the (Superior D)ome. She’s a good pitcher,” Hank Richey said of Patron. “Of course, our defense did have some more errors today that gave up some runs.

“We’re gonna have to try to slow that down and play our game. We need to control what we can control.”

Koski was complimentary of Manistique’s pitchers, and also thought his team maximized its scoring chances.

“They had a couple young ladies who came in there and threw the ball over the plate,” the Westwood coach said. “They pitched strikes and you gotta give them the credit to do that. It’s not easy to be out there on the mound for some of these young ladies, and they came in and put the ball over the plate.

“Our girls were able to make contact and hit the ball into the field — a lot of nice line shots, balls hit in between the fielders, and good baserunning.

“I felt like our girls did a good job taking extra bases when they were there and manufacturing some runs that wouldn’t have been there if we were just standing around and watching instead of being aggressive on the bases.”

Coach Richey thought his team loosened up and started having fun in the second game.

“They started having fun. It was raining, it was cold, everybody was miserable and then they flipped the switch and started having fun,” the Emeralds mentor said. “It helped that their starting pitcher (Patron) wasn’t pitching. But yeah, they started putting the bat on the ball.”

He was also glad just to play a “real” game.

“I’m just glad we got it in because we’ve been wanting to get on the field and play some games for over a month now,” Hank Richey said. “The dome was fun, but this is the real stuff playing in the elements.”

The Emeralds host Iron Mountain on Tuesday, while the Patriots visit Bark River-Harris on Wednesday.