Photo Gallery | Berkshire Force beat West Volusia, Fla.
PITTSFIELD - Julia Murphy wasn't thinking about pitch count in Wednesday's Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series opener.
In a 74-pitch complete-game win, the Berkshire Force hurler didn't have time to think about it.
"That's really efficient," Murphy said after her one-hit, eight-strikeout performance in the Force's 9-1 victory over West Volusia, Fla., at the Doyle Softball Complex. It was the first of four pool-play games for each team this week, as the 15-team tournament started Wednesday afternoon.
Murphy, a St. Joseph pitcher during the spring, didn't allow a hit until the seventh inning.
"She was on fire today," Force coach Jim Clary said. "She was pumped, and we actually thought she had an extra 4-5 mph than she normally has."
Berkshire staked her to an early lead, on Jill Campbell's second-inning RBI single to left with another run scoring on the play for a 2-0 Force lead. After West Volusia scored in the top of the third, Berkshire broke through with four runs in the bottom of the frame - three of them on Allie Hunt's inside-the-park home run to left center field.
In all, five Force players (Murphy, Hunt, Campbell, Ashley Keegan and Kayla Kowalczyk) drove in runs. Berkshire scored three times in the fourth, chasing West Volusia starter Daisy Beam.
"I think they were just starting to get in a rhythm," Clary said of the second-inning runs. "I said, 'You've got two innings to get the butterflies out, and then we start playing.' "
Murphy showed no hesitation whatsoever on the mound - and West Volusia batters didn't show any hesitation at the plate, either. Murphy threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of 25 batters, and needed more pitches to strike out Rylea Yockey in the seventh inning (6) than she did to get through the entire sixth inning (5).
"My riseball is very tempting for some hitters," Murphy said. "A lot of people can't lay off it. That was working really well."
West Volusia coach Sarah Yockey said that her batters' swing-early approach was a bit of a hindrance in Wednesday's opener, but not too much.
"They weren't as disciplined as I'm used to seeing," she said. "They were swinging at pitches they shouldn't have. While that's a bad thing, I like the [aggression]."
Both teams will have to refocus quickly. The Force play power-hitting St. Charles Parish, La., at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, while West Volusia meets Ohio Valley power Fern Creek, Ky., at 12:15 Thursday afternoon. Fern Creek opened pool play with a 14-0 rout of Hoquiam, Wash. on Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday was the start the Force had hoped for, but they know the ultimate goal - winning a championship - will take much more work over the next five days.
"We just started a new slogan: 'From now until Monday,' " Clary said.