by Tom Utescher
The Norwood Fontbonne Academy softball squad raised its record to 2-0 last Wednesday with its second straight “mercy rule” victory. The final score was actually 10-1 following five innings of play, but visiting Villa Maria called it a day thinking the gap had grown to 10 runs.
There wouldn’t have been much point to continuing the contest anyway, as the Norwood Lady Bears put on another dominating performance after topping Wyncote’s Ancillae Assumpta Academy in their season opener.
Aylssa Slovensky, a strong seventh-grade pitcher, rang up 10 strike-outs in the game while giving up just one hit and one base-on-balls. The Bears’ batters churned out nine hits and waited out three walks, while in the field NFA committed two errors to Villa’s five.
The other half of the NFA battery is eighth-grade catcher Alina Sokolski, and the other starting eighth-graders are second baseman Elena Christen, shortstop Kara Celano, third baseman Paige Divone, and outfielders Margaret Lynch and Michelle Nolan. The other starters are all sixth graders; first baseman Mary Kate Ciolko and outfielders Katherine Christen and Aydin McPhilemy.
After sending the visitors down in order at the top of the first inning last Wednesday, Norwood got started with a hit through the left side of the infield by Divone. She stole second and then scored on a throwing error that put Lynch on second base.
Lynch reached third on a passed ball and the batter, Celano, ended up with a walk and proceeded to steal second. Villa was able to strand the baserunners at second and third by chalking up three straight outs.
Each team went out one-two-three in the second inning, and after the visitors’ first batter walked at the top of the third, Norwood retired the side with three outs in a row.
In the bottom of that inning, a one-out rally began with a Divone single up the middle. After she stole second once more, Divone came all the way home on a well-executed bunt by Lynch. After she, too, stole second, Lynch scored the first of two runs on the next play, as Celano slammed a hit a few yards inside the left field line and made a full circuit around the bags as Villa took some time to relay the ball in from the outfield.
It was now 4-0 going into the top of the fourth, when Villa got a runner on second due to a Norwood throwing error, but couldn’t move her ahead from there.
For the second time in a row, Norwood started off a big inning with an out, but the home side soon had Ciolko on first thanks to an infield error. She advanced to second on a steal and to third on a wild pitch, then she crossed the plate on a hard-hit single down the third base line by McPhilemy. An error on a ball batted by Divone put NFA Bears on first and second, setting up an RBI single for Lynch that made it 6-0.
A stolen base resulted in runners on second and third for the home team, and they both scored when Celano singled to left. After a ground-out and a walk, Villa made an errant throw after fielding a ball hit by Elena Christen, allowing her to reach first safely while a run scored. It was now 9-0 and one more NFA run would’ve ended the game right there, but Villa was able to tag out the next Norwood batter between first and second before the lead runner crossed the plate.
The visitors led off the fifth inning with their best hit of the day, a shot to left center by Shaelyn Hand. It was a legitimate triple, and when the Norwood throw to third sent the ball out of play, Hand ran home to break up the Bears’ shutout.
In the home half, Nolan led off and reached second base on a walk and a steal, but the next two batters grounded out and struck out. When Divone put the ball in play and Villa’s throw to first was dropped, Norwood’s 10th run scored. Both teams became convinced that the score was 11-1 instead of 10-1, and the game was ended according to the 10-run mercy rule.