Fifth-grade pitcher Katie Convey has become a starter in the circle for the Norwood Fontbonne Academy varsity ball club. (Photo by Chris Thistle)

Fifth-grade pitcher Katie Convey has become a starter in the circle for the Norwood Fontbonne Academy varsity ball club. (Photo by Chris Thistle)

by Tom Utescher

Last Monday afternoon the Norwood Fontbonne Academy girls kept pace with visiting Notre Dame during most of their league softball contest. Unfortunately, a slow start resulted in the host Bears trailing 5-1 at the end of the first inning, and at the conclusion of the game the visiting Irish were once more up by four runs.

The final tally was 11-7, with the game ended after six innings due to the league rule that decrees no new inning may begin after 5:15 PM. Since the umpire got lost en route to Chestnut Hill and the game began late, that didn’t leave a lot of time for the girls to play, although there was plenty of time for the home team to warm up and then cool all the way down again by the time the first pitch was thrown.

In the circle for Norwood was precocious fifth-grader Katie Convey, whose mother, the former Annemarie Pavlick, played sports at Norwood and at Mount St. Joseph Academy. She finished the game with three strike outs and six walks, while visiting hurler Caroline Adams struck out one batter and walked five. Notre Dame improved to 2-0 within the Girls Catholic Academies League, while Norwood’s record was 3-2 in the league and 4-2 overall.

As the game began, Notre Dame produced two hits in its first turn at bat, but was helped along by two walks and three NFA errors in the field.  As a result, the Irish got out to a 5-0 lead. There was still a lot of time for the Bears to recover, though, and with two outs in the bottom of the first, they got one run back.

Here, Convey helped her own cause with a single to left field, then walks to eighth-grader Cara Kniezewski and sixth-grader Ryan Hendrzak loaded the bases. That set the stage for sixth-grader Lauren Slovensky’s RBI single down the third base line.

Although the Irish added three more runs at the top of the second to go up 8-1, they would only score three more times during the game, and Norwood’s situation was already looking a lot better just a few minutes later. The Bears roared back with five runs of their own in the bottom of the second round, making it an 8-6 ballgame.

After seventh-grader Kristen Neil started it off with a walk, an error on a pop-up hit by her classmate Alyssa Charlton and a second walk to eighth-grader Mary Kate Ciolko filled the bases with Bears. Both eighth-grader Lucia Macoretta and sixth-grader Claire Moxey made contact for sacrifice ground-outs, each pushing home a run and getting NFA back within five runs of the leaders, 8-3.

Next, eighth-grader Katherine Christen clobbered a triple over the head of the left fielder, driving in a fourth run for the home team. The Irish then were unable to field a hard-hit grounder between third and short by Convey. The ball rolled all the way to the fence in left field, and both Christen and Convey scored, closing the gap to two runs.

The scoring pace slowed down a bit after that, with each ball club tacking on one run in the third inning, and neither team scoring in the fourth frame. For Norwood’s run in the third, Neil walked on, went to second on a ground-out by Charlton, and then scored when Ciolko singled to the left side of the infield.

The hosts were still just two runs back (9-7) going into the fifth inning, but they were unable to add to their total. The Irish scored the last two runs of the afternoon in their half of the fifth, which began with a walk to their pitcher, Adams. She went to third with a pair of ground-outs, then scored on an NFA throwing error that put the batter on second base. A steal to third then set up an RBI single up the middle that would lock in the 11-7 final score.

The two teams just beat the time deadline to get a sixth inning underway, but as the Irish and the Bears batted for the final time the score remained unchanged.