If McKinleyville’s nearly three-week long stretch of no games causes the club to incur any rust, it didn’t show.
And now the Panthers are a win away from their first outright Big 5 Conference championship since 2011.
The McKinleyville High softball team, behind a complete-game performance from pitcher McKenzie Gonsalves and a few-too-many errors on behalf of Eureka, picked up a 7-4 win at home on Wednesday.
The win assures McKinleyville — now 10-0 in conference — a share of the Big 5 crown, a prize it can claim in full on Saturday with a win in either portion of a scheduled doubleheader.
“We still have work to do Saturday,” McKinleyville head coach Shanna McCracken said. “Our goal is to secure the title in game one and go undefeated in league once we have clinched.”
On Wednesday, Gonsalves led the way for the Panthers. She gave up four runs, two earned, on 10 hits, a pair of walks and three strikeouts.
It wasn’t the senior’s best day statistically, but against a formidable Eureka team it was more than good enough for the win.
McKinleyville, despite totaling seven hits in the win, was able to score seven runs thanks to … wait for it … seven errors on behalf of Eureka.
In the first inning McKinleyville’s McKenna Turner connected on a single to right field which scored Lexi White and, after a Eureka error on a throw, allowed Lily Thiesfeld enough time to get home, giving McKinleyville an early 2-0 lead.
McKinleyville tacked on three more runs in the second, in part due to RBIs from White and Olivia Alves, and from there nursed a strong lead for the remainder of the afternoon.
Alves finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with a lone RBI and a run scored while White went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, and an RBI.
For Eureka, which out-hit McKinleyville 10-7 in the loss, Ramie Young was the leading hitter with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, a run scored and an RBI. In total, Eureka left 22 runners on base.
Alexa Morehouse took the loss at pitcher for Eureka, allowing seven runs on seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts during her complete-game performance.
McKinleyville (10-0, 17-2) will be the road team on Saturday when it meets with Eureka (8-2, 16-4), in Eureka, at 1 p.m.