VANCOUVER — Payton Kessler continues to negotiate with the Castle Rock softball team. Kessler was on his game again on Monday, shutting out King’s Way Christian with a no-hitter in a 5-3 victory for the Rockets in 1A TriCo.
Kessler was completely perfect in six innings, racking up nine strikeouts while putting the team out in order each time the Knights came to the plate. It wasn’t until halfway through the seventh inning at home that King’s Way was able to score, taking advantage of multiple errors to reach base and then round them home before Kessler finally closed the door.
This no-hitter is the second Kessler has been part of this season, pitching the first six innings of a combined perfect game against Woodland earlier this season.
Castle Rock coach Ron Strode said the connection between Kessler and his receiver Jenna Lee was a huge factor in his dominating performances.
“They learn to use the whole plate,” Strode said. “It’s one of the really special things that comes with these two. There’s a lot of trust between these two and then there’s a lot of support behind them.
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Castle Rock’s defense has been solid behind Kessler for much of the year, but even after hesitating in the final inning against the Knights, Strode believes the experience will only help them improve.
“I think it builds confidence that they can make a few mistakes and at the same time come back and that has toughened them up a bit,” he said.
Kessler and Lee also helped the Rockets take an early lead, both in singles action and later coming home to score in the first inning to give the Rockets a 2-0 advantage. Rhiannon Sibbett scored another run for the Rockets in the third and one more in the seventh while Lee also rounded the sacks for a run in the fifth to put them ahead 5-0.
Both Kessler and Raychel Squibb went 3-for-4 from the box to help lead the Rockets to home plate.
Castle Rock (13-2, 8-0 league) still have a stranglehold on top League 1A TriCo and were set to put their unbeaten league record to the test against Seton Catholic in a home doubles match tuesday. On Thursday, the Rockets are expected to bring their talents to La Center.