Early leads have typically meant good fortunes for Janesville Craig’s softball team lately.
Maddie Gardner is not your typical pitcher, however.
The Cougars scored a first-inning run at third-ranked Sun Prairie on Thursday night, but Gardner shut Craig down the rest of the way to lead the Cardinals to a 9-1 Big Eight Conference victory.
Craig fell to 8-10 overall and 5-8 in the Big Eight.
“That score is a bit deceiving,” Craig coach Kristen Worm said. “They had three girls that were really good slap hitters, and they were super fast. Every time that part of the order came up, they scored a run or two.”
Sun Prairie took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the first and added two more in the second and one in the fifth. Three Craig errors in the sixth led to four unearned runs.
“Without those errors, it’s 5-1, which against that team isn’t bad,” Worm said. “And offensively, we made good, solid contact and put the ball in play all night, but we just hit it right at them.”
Katie Kealy had a double for the Cougars and struck out four while allowing eight hits and two walks from the circle.
Craig plays a makeup game at Verona on Friday.
SUN PRAIRIE 9, CRAIG 1
Janesville Craig 100 000 0—1 2 3
Sun Prairie 220 014 x—9 8 1
Leading hitters—Hilber (SP) 2x4. 2B—Kealy (C), Hilber.
SO—Kealy 4, Gardner 12. BB—Kealy 2, Gardner 1.