SOUTH WHITLEY – Drew Bradford admitted he didn’t put much thought into his performance as it was unfolding Wednesday evening.
That’s when bad things happen, said the Whitko High School senior.
Head coach Erik Hisner, on the other hand, was well aware of what his standout pitcher did and as soon as the game was over made sure the ball was set aside as a keepsake.
In the Three Rivers Conference opener, a 3-0 win over the visiting Maconaquah Braves, Bradford tossed a no-hitter as the Wildcats improved to 10-1 overall on the season.
Maconaquah fell to 0-7.
Bradford struck out 14 of the 22 batters he faced and missed a perfect game with a third-inning walk. He retired Maconaquah’s last 13 batters and ended the game by fanning Braves junior pitcher Ethan Larason.
“He’s thrown well all year and continued it today,” Hisner said of Bradford. “He did a great job working ahead, throwing two pitches for strikes, and he just competed his tail off. Even if it wasn’t a no-hitter, or if he had given up a couple runs, I thought he competed really well. We have a good feeling when he’s on the mound ... we know what he’s going to give us.”
Bradford improved his pitching record to 4-0 this season.
In his last two outings he’s given up just two hits, two walks and one run in 14 innings of work, while striking out 27 of 48 batters.
“My curveball was really my dominant pitch today, and I came back with the fastball and that really helped out a lot,” said Bradford.
“Honestly, it wasn’t really in my mind. As soon as you start thinking about what you’ve done bad things start happening. Going into the seventh inning it was kind of in my mind, but I just kept thinking to myself “next batter, get the next batter.’”
The Wildcats scored all of their runs in the first inning, benefitting from three walks by Larason.
Landen Goff scored on a wild pitch.
Bradford scored on a single by River West.
And Austin Hollowell scored on a double steal.
“We knew he was good coming in, and we knew it would be a big key for us to get to him early,” Hisner said of Larason. “For us to be able to put up three runs, to get two with two outs, in the first inning was huge. Obviously we’d like to tack a few more on and give us a little more comfort because we were a few bloops and a blast away from a tie game.
“Give (Larason) a lot of credit ... he found his curveball and he threw the ball well.”
After issuing the three walks and giving up the three runs in the first inning Larason settled down.
He walked just two Whitko batters over the next five innings and gave up just three hits total while striking out eight.
Bailey Platt, Hollowell and West each had a single for the Wildcats.
“We started 0-2 in the conference last year and had to win seven in a row to get a share of the title, so starting off 1-0 is huge for us,” said Hisner. “We have the rest of the week to play some non-conference games, and then we have two big ones next week with Valley, who beat us last year, and Southwood, who we always have some classic games with.”
The Wildcats host New Haven today at 5 p.m.

M    000    000    0    –    0    0    3
W    300    000    X    –    3    3    0
Maconaquah – Ethan Larason (L, 6IP, 3R, 3H, 5BB, 8K)
Whitko – Drew Bradford (W, 7IP, 0R, 0H, 1BB, 14K)
Records: Maconaquah 0-7 (0-1 TRC), Whitko 10-1 (1-0 TRC)