ST. CLOUD – As Watertown-Mayer junior Morgan Matson walked off the rubber in the first game of the season, she wasn’t sure what just happened. Matson was completely in the zone, tossing a no-hitter in Watertown-Mayer’s 12-0 victory in five innings against the Isle Huskies at the St. Cloud State University Dome Friday night.
“No, actually,” Matson said about knowing she threw a no-hitter as she walked off. “I went and talked to one of the parents who takes stats and I was just wondering how I threw overall. He told me I threw a no-hitter. So, I didn’t really notice at all. I just kind of go pitch-by-pitch and do what I got to do.”
Matson was dominant throughout, allowing just two base runners all game long. Her only blemishes came with a hit batter in the second, and a walk in the fifth inning. She recorded 10 of the 15 outs via strikeouts, as getting ahead in the count was huge for her.
“In past years, I kind of struggled getting ahead right away and have to fight my way back from a 3-0 count,” Matson said. “He (coach Isakson) told me before the game that I needed to work on getting ahead right away so I could throw some curves or drop balls.”
Matson took that to heart, as she was in control from the start, striking out the first four batters of the game.
“She did a nice job,” Watertown-Mayer coach Scott Isakson said. “She’s been stuck in the gym for as long as she has. We really tried to get ahead. That’s what I talked about with her early. I think she had first-pitch strikes on three of every four hitters. She mixed in her pitches well. For her first time out, you sure can’t complain about it.”
With every no-hitter or perfect game, a lot has to go right. While Matson was able to get ahead in the counts, it usually takes a terrific defensive play to make that special thing happen. Cue Lauren Foley.
After Matson allowed her first baserunner of the game in the second, it was Foley who made a terrific play in right field to not only keep the no-hitter alive, but to also double up the runner at first and get out of the inning. Foley came running in to make a great catch on a short blooper to keep the Huskies hitless and get the Royals back into the dugout.
“It’s a lot less stressful,” Matson said about pitching with good defense behind her. “It’s not just me needing to preform well. If I don’t, I have people behind me. It’s a lot of help. I like it a lot. They’re doing really well.”
After the Royals flashed their gloves in the top of the second inning, it was time for the bats to get going in the bottom of the third inning. Leading 2-0 coming into the inning, the Royals sent 14 to the plate to tally 10 runs to break open the game for good.
“It was a lot of fun,” Matson said about the big inning. “I’m not typically a hitter. I’ve always been more of a flex player. It’s a lot of fun cheering on the rest of my team and seeing them do really well.”
In the win, four players drove in two runs each for the Royals. Madelyn Vargo drove in a pair with a double to the gap, and junior Nikki McDonald used her speed to record an inside the park home run to cap off a big inning for the Royals.
“I think that’s one thing you’ll see all year,” Isakson said. “We’re going to have a pretty solid hitting group. The majority of the girls have experience coming back. A lot of them have a couple years of experience. They hit the ball well in the scrimmage up here. In practice, they’ve hit well against anyone we throw out there.”
While the Royals opened their season with an impressive win, they were just happy to finally be able to play a real game, even if it was technically indoors.
“It was a lot of fun,” Matson said. “It sucks being in the gym for almost two months straight. Getting this first game in definitely has been a good thing for us and we’re performing really well.”
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