Pitching, defense carry Spartans past Legacy

For the past eight seasons, Cimarron-Memorial softball coach Steve Gorden knew who his pitcher would be on any given day.

And he got dominating efforts from Jennifer Liddell from 2004 to 2007 and Carrie Sheehan from 2008 to 2011.

Now Gorden has to be a little more creative in how he handles his pitching staff and has to depend on his defense more than any time in recent memory.

Both parts of the equation worked perfectly Wednesday.

Sophomores Alexa Snyder and Michelle Knott combined on a four-hitter, and Cimarron kept its defensive miscues to a minimum en route to a 3-2 win over visiting Legacy in a Northwest League game.

“It’s more of a team effort, rather than having that dominating pitcher,” Gorden said. “We’ve had to make some adjustments. With the lack of experience pitching, we’ve had to rely on our defense more. It’s getting better.”

Gorden had four pitchers to choose from in early-season practices. Three of the four have thrown at least 15 innings, a far cry from the past eight seasons when the Spartans’ ace threw almost every game.

None of Cimarron’s pitchers is overpowering, and all rely on changing speeds and being precise with their pitches. The rest is up to the defense.

“The main thing about our team is we’re more of a team this year,” Gorden said. “We’re more dependent on each other. We don’t depend on one player.”

Snyder allowed one run on one hit and struck out three in 3 1/3 innings. Knott surrendered three hits and one unearned run while striking out three.

Their efforts gave Cimarron (10-9-2, 4-3 Northwest) just enough time to scratch across the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.

Sarah Murphy’s one-out bunt was misplayed and thrown wildly, allowing Murphy to reach second.

Sabrina Chavez followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved Murphy to third, but a wild Legacy throw to third on the play permitted Murphy to scamper home with the winning run.

Legacy (10-6, 3-3) tied the score in the seventh when Sierra Pico singled with one out, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Kiana Elia-Mendiola’s ground ball was thrown away.