by Tom Utescher
In the heat of softball battle, Springside senior left fielder Emma Korein made a cool-headed decision.
Her Lions were leading the home team, the Academy of Notre Dame, by one run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Irish had players mounted on first and second base, and when the ball was hit in front of Korein in left field, the lead runner rounded third and attempted to score the tying run in the Girls Inter-Ac League contest.
Korein was not playing terribly deep in the field, but instead of heaving the ball towards home plate, she used the cut-off option provided by a fellow senior, third baseman Brenna Coll. The highly-athletic Coll snagged the ball, spun around and rifled it home to catcher Aly Markey in time for the junior to tag out Notre Dame’s Chelsea Vattima. That ended the game, with the Lions prevailing, 11-10.
Asked if she thought about making the throw home herself, Korein said, “Yeah, but my arm’s not as strong as Brenna’s.”
The victory pulled Springside into a tie with Notre Dame in the league standings, both teams owning 5-3 records after the affair.
Last Wednesday the Lions trailed 3-1 after the first inning and 4-2 after the third, but they appeared to make a decisive move when they piled up seven runs at the top of the fifth frame. The Irish tied it up at 9-9 in the bottom of the sixth, though. Springside scored twice in the top of the seventh and AND got just one back in the bottom half.
Both pitchers tired and had some control problems late in the afternoon.
The winner, Lions sophomore Michelle Cybularz, struck out three batters and walked eight, while Notre Dame junior Christen Boas Hayes logged six strike-outs but gave up 10 bases on balls. The Irish had a 12-10 edge in total hits.
Springside got on the board in its first turn at bat, when freshman Jenna Moriarty drew a walk, went to second on a hit through the left side by junior Alexis Giovinazzo, and then scored on senior Asha Deane’s single over the head of the shortstop. On the flip side, a pair of walks helped set up a three-run homer down the left field line by Boas Hayes.
The tally rose to 4-2 as the teams traded runs in the third inning. Springside’s was scored by senior Dom Jones, who led off with a walk, moved ahead one bag on a Cybularz single, reached third on a throwing error, and then came home courtesy of a sacrifice fly deep to centerfield by Giovinazzo.
Playing shortstop in the bottom of the fourth, Giovinazzo ran and dove sideways to snare a low pop for the second out, then snapped up a grounder to bring about the third out, as well.
On the latter play, the first baseman on the receiving end of Giovinazzo’s throw was junior classmate Resnya Hughes, who got the Lions rolling in the top of the fifth by driving a ground-rule double to where the terrain starts to slant downhill in left field. Jones brought Hughes home by targeting left center for a triple off of AND’s Boas Hayes, whose troubles continued as she walked the next three batters, forcing home another run to tie the game at 4-4.
A bloop single to right field by Coll pushed the visitors ahead, 5-4, then Notre Dame picked up outs on a force at home and a strike-out. The parade of scorers resumed as an error on a ball hit by junior Michelle Boggs brought in a run, and two Lions came home when Hughes hit a single over the head of the second baseman. The final run came in on Jones’ second hit of the inning, a single to center that made it 9-4.
Springside held that lead into the sixth frame, then in the home half it disappeared as a throw out-of-play, a fielding error, and a mix-up on what should’ve been a pop-out contributed to a five-run spree for the Irish. Notre Dame helped itself with three hits, and benefitted from three walks.
After this disappointment the Lions proved resilient at the plate in the top of the seventh, as Markey and Boggs kept their wits about them and drew walks from Boas Hayes. Sophomores Shelby Jackson and Kelsea Brewer subbed in to run for Markey and Boggs, respectively. When Hughes lined a single into left field Jackson scored, but Brewer was caught between third and second base and tagged out.
Hughes moved to second when Jones walked, then Cybularz sent a hit to right center. Hughes scored on the play, and a throw to third base by the Irish failed to nail Jones while Cybularz ended up on second. After a fly was gloved for the second out, a walk to Giovinazzo loaded the bases, but a strike-out retired the side.
Would a two-run lead allow the Lions to pull out a victory? After an initial strike out by Notre Dame, doubts crept in as the Irish loaded the bags with a base hit and two walks. AND’s Boas Hayes helped her cause with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring a run to make it 11-10 with runners on first and second.
When the hosts’ Kelsey Maguire hit the ball to left, Vattima tried to score from second, but the Korein-to-Coll-to-Markey relay ended the game.