Back in the circle, Robbins pitches Northwestern past Graham

Northwestern junior pitcher Jenna Robbins throws to first base during a Central Buckeye Conference game against Graham on Monday night. Robbins struck out nine batters in the Warriors’ 2-1 victory. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

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Northwestern junior pitcher Jenna Robbins throws to first base during a Central Buckeye Conference game against Graham on Monday night. Robbins struck out nine batters in the Warriors’ 2-1 victory. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Opposing batters could barely get a hit against Northwestern’s Jenna Robbins through the first few weeks of the season. But Robbins, a junior, felt her power fade when she pulled a muscle in the back upper part of a leg in a game against Indian Lake last week.

The pain was so much that after facing one batter on Thursday against Shawnee, she took herself out of the circle. After playing third base over the last four games, Robbins started as pitcher on Monday and struck out nine batters in a 2-1 win over Central Buckeye Conference foe Graham.

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“It hurts real bad to strut on the mound,” Robbins said of the pain she feels during her pitching delivery. “It doesn’t really hurt to hit or run, it just affects my pitching. It hurt a little bit today, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as last week.”

Graham pitcher Madison Bryant was just as effective. Bryant, a junior, struck out eight and allowed only one hit in six innings. But the Warriors (9-2, 4-1 CBC Mad River) were able to capitalize on walks and fielding errors in early innings to take the lead.

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Bry White drew a walk with one out in the first and stole second base, and Abby Zerkle followed with a hard ground ball to the second baseman, who threw to first. The throw went over the first baseman’s head, which allowed White to score.

Maddie Current led off the fourth with a single, then Miranda Gillman reached first base after bunting when Graham had another throw go over the first baseman’s head. McKayla Howard followed with a ground out to first to score Current and give Northwestern a 2-0 lead.

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Graham scored in the sixth inning after Bryant hit an RBI triple to center field, and the Falcons had a chance to tie it in the seventh when Skylar Doroda hit a one-out single, but Robbins struck out the last two batters.

“When you have that many errors against a tough team, it’s hard to hang in there,” Graham coach Ralph Foster said. “And we out-hit them five hits to one, so we should have come out on top. We just didn’t take care of it defensively like we usually do.”

Northwestern had lost two of its last four with Robbins out of the circle, and coach Missy Johnson was pleased with the performance in her first game back.

“We have several other girls that have been hurt besides her, and it’s good to have her back,” Johnson said. “We just need to get everyone else healthy.”

The Warriors have two tough games ahead as they travel to Graham (11-2, 6-1) on Tuesday and then to Kenton Ridge (12-2) on Thursday.

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