JANESVILLE - April showers bring May doubleheaders.
That's the cruel fact of life for Beloit Memorial's softball team, which explains why head coach Jennifer Pozzani was particularly happy about the outcome of Tuesday's game with Janesville Craig.
Brynn Swanson gave her every reason to believe ace Jacey Walker will have plenty of help in the circle when the innings pile up as she held the Cougars in check in a 6-1 Big Eight victory at the Janesville Youth Sports Complex.
Swanson pitched a six-hit complete game with 11 strikeouts.
"With all our doubleheaders coming up, I want both of my pitchers to be ready," Pozzani said. "Jacey pitched the first game against Craig (a 10-9 Beloit win) so we changed it up this time."
The Purple Knights (5-1) plated an unearned run in the first inning courtesy of three Craig errors and tacked on two runs in the third. Kylie Evans led off with a single and Natalie Bittner sent her to third by bashing a double to left field. A walk loaded the bases and Swanson helped her cause by lacing a two-strike, two-run single to right field.
The Cougars threatened in the bottom of the inning, putting runners on second and third with two outs, but Swanson wriggled out of it with a popup and a strikeout.
Despite Craig being a modest 3-9, the Knights didn't expect a cakewalk.
"It's always a good game when we play Craig," Swanson said. "We know we're going to have to play good defense and hit well and come out with more intensity than they have."
For Swanson, it was a matter of working around the most dangerous hitters in the Craig lineup and bearing down on the rest.
"You know they have some good hitters and you just have to try to find where they don't hit it as well and try to hit those spots," she said.
If that means you end up walking them, you dominate the rest and she did that with her 11 punchouts, feeding them a steady diet of high fastballs.
"If they're swinging at it, I was going to keep throwing it until they hit it," she said. "I also had a good drop curve and tried to go inside or outside and make them chase."
Craig finally broke up Swanson's shutout in the fourth as she paid for a pair of walks, but she blanked them over the final three innings.
"We could always go to Jacey if we needed to when one hit wouldn really change things," Pozzanis said. "But I had confidence in Brynn and she closed the door."
They had runners on and there was definitely a time I considered going to her. One hit can really change things. But I have confidence in Brynn, too. I wanted her to be ready, but Brynn closed the door.
The Knights added a run in the fourth when Angelique Spencer walked, stole second and scored on Jaelyn Ryan's RBI double.
In the sixth, Ariana Brown and Spencer hit back-to-back singles, Ryan sacrifice-bunted and Brown came home on a wild pitch. In the seventh, Bittner beat out an infield hit, stole second and eventually scored on a groundout by Brown.
Leadoff hitter Bittner led the Beloit attack, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
"Bittner did a good job getting on base and when she does that, she's scary," Pozzani said. "She can do a lot as a baserunner. She's fast and she's smart getting around the bases."
Swanson said the win was a step in the right direction for the Knights.
"This was a good team win," she said. "We have to work at getting more team wins, where you don't have just a couple people doing things rather than the whole team playing good, solid defense and hitting."