The Baylor softball team has become accustomed to Syd Berzon delivering zeroes on the scoreboard.
The junior pitcher took things a step further Wednesday, when she threw a no-hitter for the five-time reigning state champions in a 6-0 home win against GPS.
Berzon struck out 16 batters, her season high, to shut down the Lady Red Raiders' archrival. Two years ago at the most recent TSSAA Division II-AA softball state tournament, the Bruisers challenged Baylor in a pair of one-run games.
"To go out and throw a no-hitter against GPS is amazing," said Berzon, who is committed to LSU. "They have always had a strong softball team, and they have some good hitters.
"I locked in with my catcher Acelynn (Sellers), who has been working with me really well all season. In the seventh inning I felt like I had more energy than in any other inning because I wanted to finish strong."
Putting the ball in play against one of the country's top prep softball players has been extremely tough. Berzon (4-0) has 52 strikeouts in 21 scoreless innings this season, when she has allowed three hits, two walks and one hit batter — which was the only thing that kept her from a perfect game against the Bruisers.
A fastball got away from Berzon in the fourth inning, hitting Ansley Blevins on the foot.
"In Syd's mind, she is going to strike out every hitter," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. "She has been pretty successful doing that. I love her competitive edge and the determination she has. This was her first time going all seven, and she looked really strong all the way through."
Berzon also had an RBI double, and Baylor (5-0) was led at the plate by sophomore Katie Raper and freshman Riley Oleksik, who had grand debuts in their first rivalry matchup with GPS.
Raper lifted a fly ball to deep center field that kept carrying and sailed over the fence for a two-run homer in the second inning. Cadashia Collins, who had two line-drive hits, also scored on the homer. In the third, Raper came through again with a double down the third-base line to bring Raven Jones and Collins home and make it 4-0.
Baylor's undefeated start comes a year after the disappointment of having spring sports in Tennessee wiped out due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"I have never seen a player come back so refined and polished in the span of her freshman to sophomore season than Katie," Smith said. "She came back and was ready to step on the field for us and produce right away this season, and I am really proud of her."
Oleksik's first varsity home run was off the top of the left-field foul pole for the game's final run in the sixth.
"Riley has been watching Baylor softball ever since she was little and has been at about every state championship we've had since she's been alive," Smith said. "This is a lot of fun for her to wear this uniform now and experience what it's all about."
Chattanooga Christian School 7, Walker Valley 6: Emily Matthews was 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBIs for the Lady Chargers, who won a close battle on the road. Lauren Kay was 2-for-4 with a home and scored twice, while Autumn Hughes picked up the win for CCS with four sharp innings in relief. Walker Valley's Grace Martin hit a home run and doubled as a part of her three-hit, three-RBI day.
Sequatchie County 13, Grundy County 0: Ella Edgmon (3-for-3, three runs) and Faith Kelly each doubled and homered while driving in two runs apiece , and Addy Edgmon tripled and drove in four runs for the Lady Indians. Cali Green struck out seven batters in four scoreless innings, and Alexus Ferrell doubled and drove in two runs.
Notre Dame 7, South Pittsburg 1: Senior pitcher Mitch Grannan struck out 10 batters and allowed just one run on six hits to lead the Fighting Irish to a home victory. Notre Dame had 12 hits and was led by Abe Shull (2-for-3, three RBIs), Jacob Eargle (2-for-3, two runs scored, RBI) and Braylon Hammond (2-for-3, two runs).
Chattanooga Christian 8, Red Bank 5: The Chargers fought back from a 5-1 deficit as Cole Headrick went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a pair of runs. Headrick had two doubles, along with teammate William Wall, who also knocked in a pair of runs. Red Bank stole nine bases, and senior Alex Cagle went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Baylor 9, McMinn County 0: Leadoff hitter Henry Godbout homered twice as a part of a 3-for-4 performance in which he drove in three runs and scored as many. Vito Valincius also had three hits and triples, Jay Dill hit a three-run homer and Jon Larrea went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Patrick Johnson struck out eight in six scoreless innings while allowing three hits.
Cartersville 2, Ringgold 0: The 16-7 visitors took the lead in the seventh inning on Blake Sutton's two-out, two-run single in the nonregion matchup of Georgia powers. Sutton was 2-for-4 with the two RBIs, and Colt McKibben and Davis Williams combined to limit the Tigers to two hits. Robbie Bates started for Ringgold (15-6) and allowed no runs and two hits in 4 1/3 innings, with Colin Mountjoy taking the loss with two earned runs and two hits allowed in 2 2/3 innings.
Pepperell 10-11, Dade County 0-1: The Dragons (14-9, 10-2 GHSA Region 7-AA), after losing the first game of the three-game series, rolled to the doubleheader sweep to pass the Wolverines (10-10, 8-3) for first place in the league standings. Dade managed just three hits in each game Wednesday, when Pepperell's Brenton McGinnes had two hits in each contest and drove in a combined five runs.
Calhoun 8-8, Milton 1-0: The Yellow Jackets (14-6) used strong pitching from Hagan Banks and Bryse Ingle to sweep the nonregion doubleheader. Banks went six innings in game one and allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts, while Ingle pitched shutout ball for six innings in game two and gave up three hits with seven strikeouts. Kris Sutton was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run in game one and added three more hits, two RBIs and two more runs in game two for Calhoun.
Roundup reports compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact MacCoon at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon. Contact Young at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.