By Todd Stanford
For The Daily Item
MILTON -- If the past is prologue, then Warrior Run pitcher Taylor Parker's no-hitter against Milton on Tuesday is a good omen for both programs.
Parker whiffed 16, walked one, and went 3-for-4 at the plate in the Defenders' 6-0 victory in a Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game.
"(Parker) had good command of the ball," Warrior Run coach Garth Watson said. "She had real pop on the ball."
With the victory, the Defenders (16-3) closed in on the top seed in the upcoming District 4 Class AA playoffs. If Warrior Run wins at Muncy on Thursday, then it will clinch the No. 1 seed.
Parker also threw a no-hitter against the Black Panthers last year, and then both teams went on to clinch district championships. The Defenders went all the way to the Class AA state final.
Despite the loss, Milton (12-5) will most likely be the No. 2 seed for the District 4 Class AAA playoffs.
"I told them, 'We're right where we want to be," Black Panthers coach Bill Keefer said with a laugh. "That's exactly what (Parker) did to us last year (before we won districts)."
Seven of nine Warrior Run batters had hits Tuesday. Parker led the way with her three hits -- two were doubles -- and two runs scored.
"I haven't really been hitting," Parker said. "Hopefully it's starting to come back now."
No. 2 batter Devin Nicholas was 2-for-4 and cleanup hitter Jackie Clemens had two hits and two RBIs.
"We hit the ball well up and down the lineup," Watson said.
But the Defenders were particularly productive at the bottom of the lineup: Their 6-though-9 hitters were a combined 7-for-14 with three runs scored and two RBIs. Laura Bastian, batting eighth, was 3-for-3 with three singles and an RBI.
"That's big," Watson said. "We moved runners. ... We've got to keep doing that."
Inside the circle, Parker was her usual self. The senior hurler not only earned her 17th career no-hitter, she also allowed just two base runners (Mary Adams walked and Payton Phillips was hit by a pitch). In fact, no Milton player put the ball in play with a swing of the bat until the fourth inning (Adams had grounded out to Parker on a bunt in the first).
"It's not fun to watch that when it's against you," Keefer said. "But it's fun to watch knowing how much work she put in. ... You respect how much work it takes to get that good."
Warrior Run jumped on top 2-0 in the first inning. Gabby Shrawder led off with a walk and Parker singled, and Clemens brought them both in with a double to right. The Defenders added one-run innings in the second and third.
"We wanted to come down here and jump on them," Watson said. "They're tough. ... We wanted to come down here focused."
Mack Miller was a bright spot for the Black Panthers. The junior catcher threw out three base runners.
"She's got a cannon for an arm," Keefer said. "She's the best player on the field in most games."