Jess Harkness won 42 games, struck out 502 batters and posted a 0.89 ERA over the last two years, so the odds were quite high that Foran would stuggle to replace its star pitcher. Harkness, who went only 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA this year while pitching in pain, last appeared in the circle on April 24.
Coach Jeff Bevino, whose team dropped to 8-7 after Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Law, hopes to get Harkness back from a hip-flexor injury Monday. There’s no certainty that will happen.
“We’ll see,” Bevino said. “The way this season has gone, who knows.”
Junior right-hander Ashley Mendillo has stepped in in Harkness’ absence as a strong replacement. Making her tenth appearance of the year (ninth start) on Wednesday, Mendillo scattered five hits over eight innings against Law. She’s 5-4 with a low-3.00 ERA on the season.
“Phenomenal game. Phenomenal,” Bevino said of Mendillo. “She did great.”
Mendillo just didn’t get any help. Foran recorded only three hits off Law right-hander Jenna Bernard in eight innings and were shut out for the third time in five games.
“We’re inventing ways to lose games,” Bevino said. “It’s just sad. This was a game that we could’ve had.”
Bevino attributted some of the Lions’ (8-7) struggles to their youth. They start only one senior, first baseman Fallon Bevino.
Law, meanwhile, improved to 13-4 thanks to four eighth-inning runs. Senior Danielle Gray produced the first run with a two-out single.
If not for an intentional walk to catcher Amanda Leone, Gray might not have batted in the eighth. She said the walk to Leone “definitely” motivated her. And considering she’s been dealing with the flu, the hit made her feel better, too.
“Having the winning hit felt like I meant to be here,” she said.