SCH senior Michelle Cybularz takes a cut at the ball during the Blue Devils’ Inter-Ac game last Wednesday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

No matter how well the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Blue Devils play against other schools, the Agnes Irwin softball team always seems to have their number.

The 2012 Girls Inter-Ac campaign ended with SCH in second place with a 9-3 record that included a pair of defeats at the hands of the Irwin Owls, who took the league title with a mark of 11-1.

Last Wednesday the visiting Owls completed a 2013 season sweep of SCH, accumulating just enough runs for the mercy rule to kick into effect at the end of five innings, when the tally was 10-0. Back on April 5, Irwin took a 10-1 decision from the visiting Devils in seven innings.

The outcome of last week’s rematch left SCH with a record of 2-6 in league play and 5-7 overall, while the Owls went home at 5-2, 9-2.

Hosting the game at Houston Playground in Andorra while their new campus field is under construction, the Blue Devils actually outhit their guests, 5-4, but they walked 11 Owls batters and at the plate they left eight of their own runners stranded on base.

Junior pitcher Katie Wenger picked up the win for Irwin, striking out six while giving up three bases on balls. Freshman Madi Saltzman logged one strike-out as she went the distance in the circle for SCH.

Owls senior shortstop Lauren Fortunato, a fifth-year varsity player headed for Skidmore College, walked to lead off the game, then a hit batter gave the visitors another baserunner. That set the stage for a two-run hit by Wenger, who drove the ball directly over second base.

With another walk, a passed ball, and a stolen base, the Owls had runners on second and third, and then one of them scored on a ground-out to short. After a pop-up for the second out, three straight walks loaded the bases and then forced a run home to make it 4-0. Coming up a second time in the inning, Fortunato popped out to end the Devils’ ordeal.

In the first turn at bat for SCH, freshman Ashley Lubisky had a hit to right field, but couldn’t advance beyond second base. After Irwin added a fifth run in the top of the second on a hit by Emily Speakman, the Devils were much more composed when they returned to the batter’s box. Wenger, for once, seemed a little shaky.

SCH sophomore Brigit McDermott started it off with a walk, but was tagged out trying to steal second. Her classmate Kathleen Foley singled, dropping the ball in behind first base inside the foul line. Junior Emily Miller-McGlone slapped a ball to the left side which AI’s Fortunato knocked down and then picked up, but her toss to second was too late to nail the leader runner, Foley.

The two Blue Devils stole ahead to second and third before sophomore Emily Chicchi drew a walk to load the bases. Unfortunately for the home fans, nobody reached the plate as a strike-out and a pop-up retired the side.

In the third frame, SCH kept Irwin from adding to its lead, and in the bottom half the Devils had a glimmer of a two-out rally when Saltzman singled between third and short and McDermott drew her second walk from Wenger. The Irwin hurler rebounded with a strike-out to dispel the threat. The hosts had now left six runners on base over the first three innings of the game.

Fairly quiet in the second and third, the Owls’ offense sprang back to life with five runs at the top of the fourth, helped along with three straight walks at the outset. Speakman’s sacrifice fly scored a run, then Lauren Fortunato’s fellow triplet, Georgia, whacked a two-run double to left center. The other two runs scored on a single by Alex Pew and a fielder’s choice.

Springside Chestnut Hill went down in order in the bottom of the fourth inning, and the visitors did the same at the top of the fifth, when Lauren Fortunato led off with a towering shot to center that was tracked down by the Blue Devils’ Foley.

The lone senior starter for SCH, shortstop Michelle Cybularz, led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to left field. Following a pop-up, she went to second on Lubisky’s base hit to the same side. Saltzman’s grounder to short was initially bobbled, but then controlled, by Fortunato, who still had time to get the force-out at third base. With a subsequent strike-out, the game ended as the 10-run mercy rule took effect.

For now, the Blue Devils still suffer from their Irwin jinx, but that could change next spring, when the young SCH squad returns three more starting players than their Rosemont rival. However, the locals will still have to generate hits at the right time to score against Wenger.

PC PITCHER PERFECT – In another Inter-Ac contest last Wednesday afternoon, visiting Notre Dame couldn’t get anything going at all against Penn Charter pitcher Kayla Quinn, as the sophomore recorded two strike-outs en route to a perfect game. In the Quakers’ 7-0 victory the other member of the PC pitching staff, senior Jess Drossner, picked up one RBI with a bases-loaded walk, then tripled in another run later on. Charter remained the undefeated leader in the Inter-Ac, with a 7-0 record.

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