Peyton Driscoll shrugged it off. It was just one pitch, nothing to sweat about.
But that one pitch was all that stood in the way of the Williamsburg freshman tossing a no-hitter in her state debut on Veterans’ Diamond on a steamy and breezy Tuesday afternoon.
Still, she’ll take a one-hitter. Better yet, she’ll take a trip to the state semifinals.
Kameryn Etherington crushed a first-pitch home to left field to open the sixth inning, but otherwise Driscoll was in complete control of the Algona batters, as she helped push third-ranked Williamsburg through the Class 3A quarterfinal round with a 3-1 victory over the No. 6 Bulldogs.
Driscoll sat down 10 consecutive batters during one stretch, and then retired six of the final seven following Etherington’s bomb to advacnce the Raiders (24-4) into a semifinal date with three-time defending state champion and second-ranked Davenport Assumption on Wednesday afternoon.
Driscoll struck out nine and walked three.
“Any pitcher might want (that one pitch) back, but you’ve just got to focus on the next pitch,” Driscoll said after her team won its eighth consecutive contest. “(Etherington) is a good hitter, but my teammates really bring me up when that happens. We come in the group together and they cheer me up.”
Etherington, the leading hitter in the state who will play at Northwestern College next fall, hit the ball hard three times. After grounding out to third twice, she delivered Algona (16-2) its only moment of celebration.
The Bulldogs hit only one other ball out of the infield — a blooper off the bat of Ashlin Young that was caught in shallow center by Williamsburg shortstop Charley Geguzis to end the fourth.
“I was just thinking throw me a strike and I’ll try to do my best,” Etherington said of her long ball, a line shot into the teeth of the wind and her sixth of the season. “Kudos to (Driscoll) for being a freshman and making it here to state. She pitched really well against us. She had a nice speed and a good cut on her movement pitches.”
Williamsburg lead-off stick Aubray Walters orchestrated a two-run third inning that put the Raiders in front for good. A slapper from the left side, she lofted a two-strike Etherington offering over a drawn-in outfield and raced all the way around to third for a stand-up triple.
She scored the game’s first run moments later on an RBI sacrifice bunt by Geguzis.
“That was a big hit,” Walters, one of five Raiders with one hit, said. “If the outfield is pulled in, sometimes I try that. But when I get two strikes on me, I just want to hit it hard somewhere and find a way on.”
Geguzis was safe following her bunt, and she eventually scored on a Jill Holub ground ball to give the Raiders a 2-0 edge.
Williamsburg increased its cushion to 3-0 in the third. Driscoll opened the frame with a base hit back up the middle, and courtesy runner Alexis Martinez scored all the way from first a few pitches later on a Megan Lamparek RBI double into the gap in right-center.
Holub also cracked a double in the fifth for the Raiders, and Elle Ridgeway had the game’s first base knock — a single to right in the second.
Driscoll jumped aboard three times in the game, but it was her performance in the circle that drew praise from Raiders’ head coach Adam Berte, a Twin River Valley graduate who attended Iowa Central.
“Peyton has been that way all year long for us,” Berte said. “From my experience with Peyton, and I really think this is the best compliment you can give an athlete, the bigger the spot, the better she is.”
Algona played without freshman shortstop Lillian Etherington, a first-team all-North Central Conference performer who hit .321 on the season.
Kameryn Etherington fanned six and walked two in her final prep game inside the circle.
“It was really exciting making it here, and playing (yesterday) was just awesome,” Etherington said. “We came up short, but it happens.”
Williamsburg will attempt to take down Goliath when it meets Assumption for the second time this season.
Assumption tagged the Raiders 12-0 on June 20, but Driscoll says her team won’t be intimidated.
“I’m really excited,” Driscoll said. “I want some revenge and maybe a better game.”
Algona 000 001 0 — 1 1 0
W’Burg 002 100 x — 3 5 0
Kameryn Etherington and Moriah Knapp. Peyton Driscoll and Carly Campbell. W — Driscoll. L — Etherington. 2B — WILL: Jill Holub, Megan Lamparek. 3B — WILL: Aubray Walters. HR — ALG: Etherington. RBI — ALG: Etherington; WILL: Holub, Lamparek, Charley Geguzis.