HIGHLAND | Munster starting pitcher Carly Murphy received the best birthday present a pitcher could ask for.
Murphy, whose birthday is Sunday, pitched a complete game to help lead the Mustangs to a 9-4 win over Lowell in the Class 4A Highland Sectional championship. Murphy struck out eight and only walked one first-inning batter. The senior hurler was given plenty of early help from her offense as the Mustangs plated eight runs in the first three innings to jump out to an 8-0 lead.
"It feels like I just got the best birthday present of my life," Murphy said. "I definitely didn't have my best game today, but the offense came, and they were there to back me up. That's what's most important."
Munster leadoff hitter Taylor Michalski set the table for the Mustangs (24-7), going 4-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI. Michalski led off the game with a single before coming around to score. She led off the second with a triple and scored on a sacrifice by Taylor Kotzo. Munster's Briana Zunica was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run.
"The ball was coming in big for me," Michalski said. "I was relaxed up there, I was just ready to play. I was really excited and pumped for this game. I don't know, it turned out well."
Murphy began to run into trouble in the fourth, putting the first two batters on, but three straight outs held the Munster lead at 8-0. The Lowell bats finally got going in the fifth when Alyssa Pokropinski and Alison Charters led off with hits and came around to score. A home run by Pokropinski in the sixth cut the Mustang lead to five, but it was as close as the Red Devils (8-20) would get.
"I think Munster definitely came out ready to play and caught us a little off guard," Lowell coach Pete Iussig said. "That should never happen. But I was proud of the girls. They battled back. Munster's a good team. We just got beat by a better team."