by Tom Utescher

Sophomore left fielder Margot Buckley gloves a fly ball to help Mount St. Joe get St. Basil out in order in the bottom of the third inning last Wednesday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

On an unusually warm Wednesday afternoon, visiting Mount St. Joseph Academy fell to league rival St. Basil for the second time this season, but in last week’s outing the Magic showed a marked improvement since the first meeting between the teams.

At the end of March, the Mount lost at home to the Panthers by a score of 16-5, committing nine errors along the way. Last Wednesday, St. Basil scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth to nip the Mounties, 2-1, and on defense the Magic looked like a different team.

Today was our first game with zero fielding errors,” confirmed Bill Thompson, who is in his first season coaching the Mount along with colleague Jen Carlo. “One thing we preach is that when you have errors, you lose games, and I thought the girls did a great job today. We just didn’t get the right hit at the right time to win the game. Coach Carlo has made great progress in getting the girls focused out in the field; knowing situations and where to go with the ball.”

St. Basil, always a force to be reckoned with in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies, improved to 7-2 in the league and 8-2 overall, with its only losses coming against powerhouse Nazareth Academy. The improvement demonstrated by the Magic out on the field has not been reflected in the win/loss figures so far; they went home from Jenkintown last Wednesday at 2-6 in the AACA and 2-8 overall.

The Mount St. Joe line-up at St. Basil was a youthful one. The Magic were missing seniors Heather MacFarlane and Julianne Looby, their regular right fielder and designated hitter, along with starting first baseman Melissa Williams and her back-up, Charlotte Banzhof, who are both juniors.

Starting pitcher Kathryn Cnudde is still a sophomore, and Thompson said “She’s throwing very well right now, really coming along for a young pitcher.”

Cnudde compiled three strike outs with no walks at St. Basil last week, while winning pitcher Sam Gibson struck out six and gave up one base on balls. The Panthers had a 5-4 edge in hits in the game.

In the bottom of the first, SBA’s Anyssa Flores led off with an infield grounder and beat the throw to first. She went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Michelle Paulosky, and scored on another bunt, this one by Melissa Mulvey. MSJ’s Cnudde picked up her first strike-out to retire the side.

The Magic got just 10 batters up to the plate over the first three innings; junior third baseman Maeve Elliott drew a walk in the second but was left on base. With one out in the top of the fourth there were Mount runners on first and second, but one of them then mistook a ground-out for the third out of the inning, walking off the bag and getting tagged for the real third out.

In the bottom half Panthers clean-up hitter Erin Scanlon pounded a double to right center with one out, but two fly balls ended the inning, with sophomore Julia Mustin charging the ball in centerfield to make the second of these catches. Part of the Mount’s Norwood Connection, Mustin and former Norwood Fontbonne Academy classmate Lauren Stabler sparked the Mount offense in the top of the fifth frame.

With one out, Mustin reached first on a soft grounder down the third base line, then St. Basil’s Gibson struck out the next batter. Next, Stabler stepped up to drive the ball between short and second. Flores, the Panthers’ shortstop, was able to reach out and knock the ball down before it got far into centerfield, but Mustin made it around to score and the game was tied, 1-1.

On the flip side of the inning, Colie Woodill led off for the hosts with a single to shallow right field, then held at first on a fly out to left field. A sacrifice bunt by Brogan got Woodill to second, and she scored on a hit over the head of the shortstop by Flores.

The Panthers made their 2-1 lead stand up by sending the Magic down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings.

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