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Heritage holds pair of aces
Kierra Camp comes hit batsman shy of perfection
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Heritage's ace pitcher capitalized the K in her first name Wednesday with a no-hit, 13-strikeout performance that led the Patriots to a 9-0 win against Newton on Wednesday.

Kierra Camp blew through the Rams' lineup striking out 12 of the first 13 batters she faced. The junior was cruising along as Heritage approached a run-ruled shortened game, before putting a runner on base.

After Marie Diaz grounded out to short for just the second ball to get in play, Camp struck out Deanna Jackson. With pinch-hitter Caitlyn Brown up to the plate, Camp threw a little too far inside and hit the freshman to put the only Rams' runner on base all game. Camp then got Ashton McKinson to ground out to second base for the final out.

"Kierra is Kierra, any time she's in the circle you have a chance to win, it doesn't matter who it is," Heritage coach Jason McBay said. "She was in the zone today. I know she wanted that perfect game badly, at least she got the no-hitter."

Camp struck out every batter she faced each time, with the exception of Brown, Diaz and Bre Weaver, who grounded out to the pitcher in the first inning.

"She definitely had the most movement and change of speed that we've run across this season," Newton coach Virginia Waters said. "She's a really, really strong pitcher."

The Patriots have allowed runs in only one game this season, in a 6-3 victory over Woodland, Henry to open up the 2012 slate on Aug. 9. Other than that the Patriots have been dominating, beating New Manchester 15-0 and Lithia Springs 11-0, along with Newton, before playing Darlington and Chattooga in a tournament in Temple Friday evening (both those games finished after press time).

A large part of the early season dominance is Heritage's pitching staff, which appears to be among the best in Region 8-AAAAA. Along with Camp, who has been a dominating presence in the pitching circle since her freshman season in 2010, there is also another ace-quality pitcher in Heritage's rotation.

Freshman Kamryn Toney is Heritage's 1-A starter and someone who can come in if there is ever a brief moment when Camp doesn't have her best stuff. Against Lithia Springs Tuesday, Toney pitched seven innings, allowing one hit with eight strikeouts and four walks.

"I would put Kierra against anyone in the region on any given day," McBay said. And it's early, but Kamryn has proven the same thing with her location and just her poise on the mound. She doesn't carry herself like a freshman."

The emergence of Toney has also had a positive effect on Camp, who sees her pitching compatriot as a source of help rather than competition.

"It's a relief for her knowing that we have a No. 2," McBay said. "If she has a bad day we can go to Kamryn to have a great shot to stay in the game."

Camp has also been lending her expertise to the freshman, as both pitchers play third base when they're not in the circle.

"That's part of Kierra being a leader and one of our team captains," McBay said. "She makes everyone around her better, she takes Kamryn to the side and when Kamryn is pitching Kierra is playing third and they're just rooting for each other."

Wednesday night, Toney was the one doing the cheering as Camp was putting on a dazzling display. While she was keeping the Newton bats in a state of hibernation, Heritage was taking advantage of their opportunities.

The Patriots started by scoring on their first three batters of the game.

The Patriots stole nine bases, including one by Cierra Davenport, who opened the bottom of the second on a single.

Davenport scored on Callwood's two out RBI single to center field. Callwood came home on Camp's double.

Moser reached first to lead off the third inning, before stealing second and third and then coming home as Carri Wilkerson attempted to steal second.

"Right now from Kierra all the way to our manager, everyone has kind of embraced their roll," McBay said. "When it works like that everyone can accomplish more."

Heritage is playing in the Temple tournament Friday and Saturday, against Darlington, Chattooga, Lithia Springs and Mt. Zion, looking to continue to improve and maintain their unbeaten record.