MERRILLVILLE | Nicole Steinbach didn't realize what was happening when she was on the mound.
As one of the best pitchers in the area, the Andrean senior was retiring hitters and settling into an even deeper groove as the game went along.
However, she had no idea she was inching closer to a no-hitter as the game went along, and that's exactly what she ended up with as the Times No. 3 59ers blanked Lowell 2-0 in a Northwest Crossroads Conference pitcher's duel.
"I just had no idea," said Steinbach, who struck out 10 batters. "I wanted to come out and be stronger and be the person I know I am. Hitting, I didn't do that good, but pitching I guess I was better. All of my pitches were working today."
With Lowell (8-8, 3-5 Northwest Crossroads Conference) normally a capable offensive team, Steinbach (9-1) said she had to be more careful on the mound.
"They're very good hitters," she said. "They know where to place the ball, what pitches to attack and what pitches to take. I know they can hit the ball if you're not careful."
Steinbach allowed just two base runners, a walk to Morgan O'Hanlon in the first inning and Ali Charters reached on a catcher's interference (scored as an error) in the fourth inning.
"I'll take the walk instead of the hit," said assistant coach Fred Steinbach, who was filling in for Brooke Baker-Runyon (on vacation).
"Walks are one thing, but hits are contagious. She focused back and shut them down, and that's what a good pitcher is supposed to do."
Andrean (10-1, 7-1) got both of its runs in the first inning, capped by a sacrifice fly from Brenna Boyle that scored Kaitlin Barajas.
Lowell's Leah Fenner allowed seven Andrean hits, but otherwise pitched a very solid game against a potent offense.
"Fenner's got to hit her spots, she's not going to overpower anybody," Lowell coach Pete Iussig said. "We moved the defense around in hopes that she hit her spots. That happens. That's a good team over there."