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Keltner pitches No. 5 Enterprise to 3-0 quarterfinal win over No. 4 Las Plumas

Two ace pitchers held the game in the palm of their hands for much of Tuesday afternoon to start the Northern Section softball playoffs.

Enterprise’s Shelby Keltner throws a pitch during Tuesday’s Northern Section Division II/III quarterfinal win against No. 5 Las Plumas on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Bates/Chico Enterprise-Record)

OROVILLE — Two ace pitchers held the game in the palm of their hands for much of Tuesday afternoon to start the Northern Section softball playoffs.

Enterprise’s Shelby Keltner and Kylee Potes of Las Plumas matched each other pitch for pitch, strikeout for strikeout, while rarely giving up a hit, or so much as a ball put in play.

Without much separating the two of them, it was simply a matter of which team could find any semblance of offense, and give itself a decent opportunity to score a run.

By the game’s end, that team was Enterprise.

The No. 5 seed Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning before Khloe Forrister gave her team a commanding 3-0 advantage with a two-run triple in the sixth. Keltner earned the win in a complete-game effort with 14 strikeouts, and kept the No. 4 Thunderbirds in check with two hits. Enterprise will play top-seed Chico in the semifinals Thursday.

“I think it was a mixture of everything, just trying to keep them off balance,” Keltner said of her success in the circle. “That’s how I have to go into each game, kind of thinking about what pitches are going to work … off-speed pitches definitely were working (and) high in the zone.”

Potes, too, had 14 strikeouts, while holding Enterprise to four hits. She held strong during first-inning traffic when the Hornets loaded the bases on a walk, hit batter and Keltner single.

The ensuing batter, Casie Whitehead, hit a grounder to shortstop, where Kami Thomspon fielded the ball and threw to Aleska Jeska at home plate ahead of a sliding baserunner. Potes struck out the next batter to keep the Hornets off the scoreboard.

In the bottom half of the opening frame, Potes, the leadoff hitter, ripped a line-drive single over first base, before Kaylee Boucher found an opening in shallow left three batters later.

But Keltner picked up a strikeout to end the inning, stranding both baserunners. The Thunderbirds went without a hit for the remainder of the game.

“They put a lot of pressure on us early in the game,” LP coach Toby Thompson said. “They put runners on, and that puts pressure on the defense.

“I thought if we could score one or two runs, we would have a chance. That’s the type of team we have. Kylee is going to shut them down … give us a chance and keep us in the game, and she did that again like she always does.”

Earlier this season when the two teams played at Enterprise in a preseason tournament, Potes held the Hornets to just one hit in a 2-0 win.

The second time around was a different story. Enterprise broke a scoreless stalemate in the third on a Rylie Gilbreath RBI single. Potes then fanned seven of the next eight batters, but LP was unable to get on base.

“Personally, I think that we actually do good under pressure,” Jeska said. “But this game, I mean, they fought, they really wanted it and they just gave that extra little bit.”

Enterprise’s next opponent, Chico, earned the No. 1 seed with a 23-4-1 record in the regular season. The Panthers took two previous games over Enterprise by 10-0, 14-2 margins.

“They’re a good team and I’ll give them that,” Keltner said. “They’ve got great pitching and great coaches. I’m really looking forward to trying to take them to the next level and compete.  Because they’re definitely the team to beat, and I’m really excited to be able to play them.”

Enterprise 3, Las Plumas 0
Enterprise * 001 * 002 * 0 * — * 3 * 4 * 0
Las Plumas * 000 * 000 * 0 * — * 0 * 2 * 2
Keltner and Gilbreath; Potes and Jeska.
Top hitters
Enterprise: Forrister 3B, 2RBI.

Will Denner is a sports reporter at the Chico Enterprise-Record. A native of Portland, Oregon, Will graduated from the University of Oregon in 2016.

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