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Huron staff ace pulls double duty PHOTOS

  • Huron's Courtney VanRiper tossed 13 innings against Riverview on Wednesday and was back in the circle on Thursday for a tough doubleheader with Monroe SMCC. Photo by Ricky Lindsday
  • Huron's Courtney VanRiper tossed 13 innings against Riverview on Wednesday and was back in the circle on Thursday for a tough doubleheader with Monroe SMCC. Photo by Ricky Lindsday
  • Huron's Courtney VanRiper tossed 13 innings against Riverview on Wednesday and was back in the circle on Thursday for a tough doubleheader with Monroe SMCC. Photo by Ricky Lindsday
  • Huron's Courtney VanRiper tossed 13 innings against Riverview on Wednesday and was back in the circle on Thursday for a tough doubleheader with Monroe SMCC. Photo by Ricky Lindsday
Nerves began to take over as Courtney VanRiper trotted to the mound to finish what she had started.

Huron's senior ace had already logged 13 innings on the day after going the distance in the first game of a doubleheader against SMCC. With one more inning, she'd wrap up her second complete game in a span of three hours.

The score, 3-1, was in Huron's favor. Attempting to lead the Chiefs to victory, VanRiper stepped inside the white circle at the diamond's center.

But it was all too eerily familiar.

Nearly an hour and a half earlier, the Chiefs held the lead in the first game, a slim 3-2 margin entering the seventh inning. A bloop hit glided up the middle between Huron's middle infielders to give SMCC the late lead and eventually, the game.

This time, history wasn't going to repeat itself.

With the pressure of getting a win to claim sole possession of second place in the league weighing on her shoulders, VanRiper knew what she had to do.

"I was nervous, but I had to keep calm," she said.

With nerves rattling about, VanRiper delivered. The four-year varsity pitcher recorded a strikeout to close out Huron's 3-1 victory and twinbill split.

"Courtney was out to win," Huron Coach Heather Holshoe said. "She wanted to pitch the game and she wanted to go at them and she wanted to have a good outing. That's exactly what she did."

VanRiper logged 14 innings pitched against the Kestrels on Thursday. She dazzled hitters to the tune of 18 strikeouts and allowed only three earned runs.

Thursday's performance served as a memorable sendoff to the Huron League teams VanRiper has faced over the past four years.

"It's her last league game as a four-year varsity pitcher and she's had an amazing league career," Holshoe said. "She wants to show not only SMCC, but the other teams in the league, that we are capable and she is capable."

A high work load isn't anything new to VanRiper while pitching. After all, she started the first game of a doubleheader with Riverview on Wednesday.

"It's basically just dedication," she said. "I've been pitching for a while, so it's nothing new to me."

Once undefeated on the year, Huron has dropped to 21-4 with four regular season games remaining next week. VanRiper's dominance against juggernaut SMCC could unravel into an embraced gift for the Chiefs. They face Summit in the Division-II district on May 31.

"You want your kids to peak at the right time," Holshoe said. "We've had a great year. We're long from done. You just like to see that in them. Better every day. I mean, that's our motto, always has been.

"We believe it. We play it. We live it. We say it. That's who we are."

Last Updated: 5/23/2014 6:01:02 PM EST

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