by Tom Utescher
Last Wednesday Norwood Fontbonne Academy clinched at least a tie for the Girls Catholic Academies League softball championship, ringing up a 10-0 mercy rule victory over visiting Waldron Mercy Academy.
Eighth-grade pitcher Katie Convey piled up 10 strike-outs without giving up a walk or a hit as the Bears improved to 4-0 in the GCAL. With a road win this week against Ancillae Assumpta Academy, Norwood would win the 2018 league title outright.
For a while, it didn’t appear as though last Wednesday’s contest would end up being a high-scoring affair for either side. The score remained 0-0 through three innings, although NFA came close to getting a run home in the bottom of the first.
With two outs, Norwood’s Convey hit a high infield pop that came down between the pitching circle and the third base line. None of the Waldron players made a move to get under the ball, and Convey ran all the way to second in a case where the statistical term “defensive indifference” could be applied. Convey stole third before seventh-grader Kayleigh Howard drew a walk, but then a strike-out left both runners stranded.
In the third inning, Bears eighth-grader Katie McGowan was left on base after getting on through a fielding error by the Waldron Tigers.
The bottom of the fourth inning began with walks to Convey and Howard, and Convey had already stolen ahead to third base before the fourth ball was pitched to her teammate. Howard then stole second, but it looked as though NFA might strand runners in scoring position once more as two outs followed.
Eighth-grader Emily Riethmiller then hit a grounder down the third base line that actually hit the bag, bounced up and kept on going. Both base runners scored to put Norwood up 2-0 in the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, it seemed as if Waldron might answer with at least one run of its own when the lead-off batter got on base through an error and then stole around to third.
The Bears got themselves out of immediate danger when the next batter hit a fly ball to centerfield. Riethmiller caught it, and the ball was relayed to third base to complete a double play when the Waldron runner failed to return in time. A ground-out then retired the side.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, a pair of Waldron errors put Norwood sixth-grader Eva Rodgers and McGowan on base. Eighth-grader Nora Blatney bopped an RBI single down the third base line to make it 3-0, then Convey drove in two runs with a triple deep to left field.
On another ball hit to left, this one by Howard, Waldron couldn’t pocket the fly ball and another run came home. The Tigers then retired the side with two straight outs, but the hosts were now ahead 6-0.
After going down in order at the plate, Waldron returned to the field with a new pitcher in the circle, and she had some control problems from the outset. Riethmiller, sixth-grader Keira Thorell, and fifth-grader Ainsley Howard all drew walks to load the bases, then another base on balls – to Rodgers – pushed home the Bears’ seventh run.
An eighth run was forced home when McGowan was hit by a pitch, and when another bases-loaded walk was issued to NFA’s Blatney, the score rose to 9-0 and the 10-run mercy rule was about to go into effect. Convey stepped to the plate, saw a hittable pitch, and whacked a drive down the left field line. The runner from third scored easily, and the contest came to an end.