INTER-AC Softball – Talk about saving your best for the middle of the season.
Springside-Chestnut Hill, defending Inter-Academic League champions, notched three thoroughly impressive victories over a one-week span. Now the Blue Devils are in the proverbial driver’s seat as they prepare to face four more opponents who, on paper, appear overmatched.
The Blue Devils blanked visiting Notre Dame Academy, 2-0, on April 24. Two days later, SCH dramatically defeated previously undefeated Penn Charter, 3-2. On Tuesday, the Blue Devils once again upended Penn Charter via a 2-0 shutout.
If SCH holds on for another title, the two wins over Penn Charter will be the main reason why. The Blue Devils have one loss in the league; Penn Charter and Notre Dame Academy have two apiece.
“Both games were tight as we expected,” said senior Kayla McTamney, who fired an outstanding three-hit complete game against Notre Dame. “We knew if we wanted a shot to stay at the top of the Inter-AC, we had to come back last week with two wins.”
In the first contest, the Blue Devils answered a run by Penn Charter with one of their own in both the first and third innings. In the bottom of the seventh, SCH was in prime position to stun the Quakers because the top of the lineup beckoned.
Control issues in the form of three walks loaded the bases with Blue Devils. Up to bat with one out, McTamney was not about to help out a struggling pitcher.
McTamney worked a 3-0 count. With the Blue Devils faithful screaming wildly, McTamney took another pitch for ball four, allowing senior Rachel Kazlauskas to jot home from third base.
“I knew I would be patient and take my time,” said McTamney. “I was feeling very anxious, but I knew I had to come up big during this at bat. I knew I had to put the ball somewhere in the field or get walked to get on base.”
After McTamney started the game on the mound and allowed two runs in the first four innings, one on a homerun by Penn Charter sophomore Maddie Solow, sophomore Kylie Woloshyn stymied the Quakers for the remainder of the game.
“Kylie was great in not allowing any runs, and so was our defense,” said McTamney. “It was a close game and not the prettiest game for our team, but in the end, we came out on top.”
With both teams tied with one loss, the rematch promised to be another pitcher’s duel, and it was indeed.
Neither team could muster any offense until the visiting sixth.
The Blue Devils pushed across two runs and once again, McTamney supplied the winning RBI when she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Junior Mone Davis’ hit added an insurance run, and Woloshyn pitched out of a two-on jam in the home seventh.
“We came out with a lot of intensity and energy,” said McTamney. “I think that helped us get the win over both teams.”
It’s not over til it’s over.
A case in point occurred on April 26. Trailing Episcopal Academy, 3-0, heading into the bottom of the seventh, Notre Dame Academy transformed a sure defeat into a memorable triumph with a stunning four-run rally.
“Our strategy was to just take it one base at a time and to not make any mistakes on the bases,” explained ND senior Caroline Adams. “Try to keep getting on base as best we could.”
Sophomore pitcher Grace Jackson’s bunt single and a quick stolen base started the Fighting Irish onslaught. Adams singled home Jackson to make it 3-1. With runners on second and third and two outs, junior Sophia Haub singled home both to tie the game. Up stepped freshman Brooke McKeown, and her line-drive triple scored Haub with the clinching tally.
“It was extremely exciting,” said Adams. “We were slow to get runs in the beginning of the game. We had runners on base but couldn’t seem to get them home for the runs.”
Episcopal seized a 3-0 lead in the sixth.
“In the seventh, we all really came together,” said Adams. “We knew it was an important game to win and we gave it our all.”
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)
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