Cooper leads Panthers to victory

Published 8:54 am Saturday, March 29, 2003

By Staff
KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
YEATESVILLE -- Though just a sophomore, Plymouth's Ashley Saunders has already established herself as one of the most feared pitchers in the area. However, it was Northside's Crystal Cooper who stole the show Friday.
Cooper fired a two-hit shutout, leading the Panthers to a 4-0 win over the Vikings in the Four Rivers Conference battle. Northside's pitching ace allowed a leadoff single to Dana Oliver in the second, then retired the next 15 batters she faced. Frannee Pittman's leadoff single in the seventh was the only other hit Plymouth would get.
Northside (4-1, 2-0), winners of four straight, jumped on Plymouth (4-3, 0-2) for two runs in the first and never looked back.
The Vikings, losers of three straight, came out lethargic after recently returning from an overnight school field trip.
Phelan Fletcher and Candice Hancock did the brunt of the damage for Northside. Fletcher had two hits and drove in three runs, while Hancock banged out a pair of hits and scored three times.
The Panthers received a boost even before the game started, as senior Ashley Leary made her first start.
Leary reached base in all three of her plate appearances, and made a nice running grab of Oliver's fly ball in right-center field to end the game.
Tricia Mercer, who had two hits, sparked Northside early by leading off the first with an infield single. Hancock slapped a two-out single into left and Leary drew a walk to load the bases. Fletcher then blooped a hit into shallow center to score a pair of runs.
Plymouth errors led to Northside's next two runs. Hancock roped a double in the third and scooted home when Leary reached on an error.
Hancock reached on a two-out error in the fifth. The sophomore moved up to second on another error before stealing third. Hancock then scored when Fletcher beat out an infield hit, giving the Panthers a 4-0 cushion.
That was more than enough for Cooper, who fanned three and didn't walk a batter in the complete-game victory.
Saunders, who struck out 11 and walked one over six innings, said her team will bounce back.
Plymouth 000 000 0 -- 0 2 4
Northside 201 010 x -- 4 6 0
WP: Crystal Cooper; LP: Ashley Saunders
P -- Frannee Pittman 1-3, Dana Oliver 1-3; NS -- Candice Hancock 2-3 (2B, 3 runs), Phelan Fletcher 2-3 (3 RBI), Tricia Mercer 2-4.