by Tom Utescher
Breaking a 5-5 deadlock with a four-run burst at the top of the fifth inning, visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy knocked off Notre Dame last Tuesday afternoon, 10-5.
The Blue Devils’ softball squad climbed above the .500 mark in the Inter-Ac League, rising to 6-5 with only a bout against Baldwin School remaining on the league schedule. Notre Dame, which had lost 8-2 at SCH a week earlier, dropped to 3-7 in the Inter-Ac with last Tuesday’s setback.
SCH outhit the Irish, 9-4, while sophomore pitcher Madi Saltzman went the distance to pick up the win, battling a tightly-called strike zone to record six strike-outs with six walks.
A day before SCH arrived on their campus, the Irish had gone eight innings to record a 1-0 victory over Germantown Academy. Starting out against the Blue Devils on Tuesday, Notre Dame tried to give a break to their regular starting pitcher, Emma Spaeder, who began the game in the outfield as shortstop Morgan Vockel moved into the circle.
It quickly became apparent that this arrangement wasn’t going to work, as the first three batters drew walks to load the bases. While SCH junior clean-up hitter Brigit McDermott was at the plate, the Irish put Vockel back in her customary position and brought Spaeder in to pitch.
McDermott also walked to push home the first run of the game, then Notre Dame secured the first out on a pop-up.
On a fielder’s choice play that left Blue Devils freshman Ava Tokarek safe on first base, the Irish got a force-out at third, but a second run scored for the visitors. Another SCH ninth-grader, Nicole Woo, singled through the left side of the infield to load the bases once more, then her classmate Alivia Villari waited out a walk to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Next, senior Emily Miller-McGlone made glancing contact with the ball, but it bounced up and hit her while she was in the baseline en route to first, resulting in the third out.
The hosts got two runs back in their half of the first inning. A pair of walks set up an RBI single to right center by Aria Kovalovich, and later the second run came in on a sacrifice grounder by Kathryn Spaight.
The top of the order came up for the Blue Devils as the second inning began, and the Moriarty sisters, senior shortstop Jenna and junior catcher Julia, got the visitors going with back-to-back base hits. On Saltzman’s grounder to the left side, Notre Dame got a force out at third base. The two remaining baserunners stole ahead to second and third, then both came home on a double driven over the head of the centerfielder by McDermott.
The resulting 5-2 SCH lead stayed on the board until the bottom of the third. With the help of a Springside Chestnut Hill error and a pair of walks, the Irish loaded the bases to set up a game-tying three-run triple to right center by Emily Sheehan.
The Blue Devils didn’t respond immediately, going down in order at the top of the fourth frame. Their defense came through in the bottom half after Notre Dame started out with a pair of singles. Saltzman struck out the third batter, then first baseman McDermott pocketed a pop-up in foul territory for the second out. The hosts’ Kovalovich hit a ball in the air that looked like it might drop safely into shallow center, but SCH’s Woo charged in to make the catch and retire the side.
The visitors got their bats going again in the fifth frame. Tokarek got on with an error and then reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Woo.
Following a strike-out, one run scored on a hit by Miller-McGlone, and after Jenna Moriarty drew a walk and stole second, her sister Julia directed an RBI single to left field, making it 7-5. Saltzman then lofted a single over second base to bring in both baserunners, stretching the lead to 9-5 before Notre Dame secured the third out on a fly ball.
Following a one-two-three bottom half, sophomore Ashley Lubisky led off the sixth with a triple deep to centerfield. She was held on third as the next batter grounded out to the pitcher, then she scored on the next play as Woo tapped a little dribbler on the first base line and was thrown out at first. The 10-5 final score was now on the board.
With two outs in the bottom half, two Notre Dame players drew walks, but the home team’s next batter grounded out. Two walks and an error helped the Blue Devils load the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh. The runners were left stranded, though, thanks to a line drive to the Irish centerfielder.
A near-collision in the outfield resulted in a two-base error benefitting Kovalovich as the home half of the seventh got underway. On a ball hit on the ground to SCH third baseman Lubisky, the Blue Devils were able to trap Kovalovich in the baseline and they tagged her out as she tried to make it back to second.
A force-out at second followed, and Saltzman then wrapped up her win with a strike-out.