For many years, Nazareth Academy was a dominant softball power in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies. Not last week.
For many years, Nazareth Academy was a dominant softball power in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies, and although the Pandas have not replicated that success this spring, they did defeat Mount St. Joseph Academy in the first game of their home/away league series.
When the Mount Magic hosted Nazareth in the rematch last Tuesday, it was an historic occasion. Nazareth is leaving the AACA after this academic year to join the Philadelphia Catholic League, so this was the last time the softball teams from the two schools would meet as league rivals.
Not only did the Magic buck the historical trend by winning the contest, they did it by bringing the mercy rule into effect in the sixth inning. With one run in that inning, the Mount attained an 11-1 lead and the game ended immediately.
It's been a successful spring overall for the Mount, which raised its record to 7-3 in the league and 11-7 overall after starting the season at 0-2, 0-4.
Last Tuesday it was also Senior Day at the Mount, and one of the graduating players, Emily Vinal, went the distance in the pitching circle. Vinal, who will go on to play at Gettysburg College, logged one strike-out while giving up three walks and four hits.
The other half of the MSJ battery, catcher Kylie McMullen, will attend Seton Hall University. The other two seniors have almost identical names.
Meghan Martin, who's headed to the University of Scranton, wears number 10 on the softball field, while Megan Martin, who'll play tennis at Lebanon Valley College, is number 11.
Megan Martin and Vinal singled in the bottom of the first but were left on base, and Nazareth took an early lead at the top of the second thanks to a solo home run over the centerfield fence by Ariana Rosado.
Magic freshman Daria Yohe led off the bottom half with a single up the middle, and after a fly-out she reached second through a Nazareth error on a ball put in play by sophomore Jewel Schaefer. A hit to centerfield by junior Kayla Funk then tied the game at 1-1.
At the top of the third, the Pandas had the bases loaded with one out. The threat was quickly quashed by junior second baseman Vivian Moore, who fielded a ground ball, tagged out the runner coming from first base, and then threw to first to nail the batter.
The Magic surged ahead in the home half of the third, which started with a towering double down the left field line by McMullen. She moved to third base on a ground-out by Vinal, and when Moore hit a ground ball toward short, Nazareth faked a throw to first but then failed in its goal of catching McMullin off third base.
Yohe then drove in the go-ahead run with a line drive to centerfield. After she stole second, freshman Emily Markowski put the ball in play on the ground. Nazareth tried again to catch a Mount runner in the baseline, but failed once more, now leaving the bases loaded. The bags were then emptied when Schaefer came through with a three-run double, bashing the ball to left center and seeing it roll to the foot of the fence.
Sophomore Charlotte Gale grounded out and got Schaefer to third base, and she scored on a hit through the left side by Meghan Martin, giving the Magic a 6-0 lead for the start of the fourth frame.
Megan Martin charged in from centerfield to catch a short fly ball for the first out of the fourth inning. Two ground-outs followed to retire the side, and the Mounties did not add to their lead in the bottom of the fourth.
MSJ's Vinal hit a Panda batter to start off the fifth, but after a force-out and a pop-up, she secured a strike-out to send Nazareth back out to the field. With one out, hits by Schaeffer and Gale and a walk to Meghan Martin loaded the bases. Nazareth's troubles compounded as their pitcher struggled and gave up walks, and a total of four Mount runs scored to make it 10-1.
The Magic sent the visitors down in order at the top of the sixth, then a high throw to first on a grounder by Markowski left the freshman safe on the bag. She went to third on a double down the left field line by Schaefer. Gale then flied out to centerfield, but Markowski was able to tag up and score, immediately ending the game as the MSJ lead reached 10 runs.