Houston’s left-hander fired a no-hitter and struck out nine batters in the Lady Hilltoppers’ 18-0 Division 4-4A victory against visiting Noxubee County in fastpitch softball.
Gravat (22-1) also recorded six RBIs with a single and an inside-the-park home run.
“Our team feeds off her,” coach Keith Jernigan said. “Our players have a lot of confidence when she’s in the circle.”
The Lady Hilltoppers (26-1, 10-0 division) have earned a first-round bye in the state playoffs. They will play a second-round best-of-three series starting April 27.
Gravat kept Noxubee County’s batters off balance with her fastball and change-up.
“That’s all I’ve got,” she said, then smiled. “I just try to hit my spots.”
Jernigan says Garvat has had her best overall season in the circle. This is her fourth year to start.
“She’s a lot stronger mentally,” he said. “She takes command of the game. She’s also done an exceptional job fielding this season.”
Chelsea Gates and Zamia Mason led Houston with three hits apiece. Gates, the team’s leadoff batter, had an RBI double in the Hilltoppers’ 13-run third inning.
“I see the ball really well,” said Gates, a sophomore who’s batting .378 with a team-high 10 triples. “I’ve worked on my hitting.”
Houston’s goal this season is to reach the state finals in Ridgeland. The Hilltoppers were eliminated in the second round last year and in 2009. In 2010 they lost to North Pontotoc in the North state finals.
“This is the strongest team we’ve had since I’ve played here ... defensively and definitely hitting,” said junior second baseman Avery Springer, whose .400 average leads the team. “Haley’s pitching is better than it has ever been.”
Added Gates, “I think we can go all the way.”