Freshman Carroll’s five-hitter, RBI lift fourth-seeded Spalding past McDonogh; Botkin delivers five RBI’s as fifth-seeded John Carroll eliminates Mount de Sales; Cavaliers and Patriots to battle for IAAM A title on Saturday
by Nelson Coffin
An uprising by lower seeds marked the semifinal round of the IAAM A Conference softball playoffs on Thursday afternoon.
Fifth-seeded John Carroll knocked off top-seeded Mount de Sales Academy, 8-6, while fourth-seeded Archbishop Spalding edged No. 2 seed McDonogh, 2-1, in eight innings in the other half of the bracket.
The winners will clash for the title on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at Stevenson University at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore (3506 Gwynnbrook Ave.) in Owings Mills.
A couple of freshmen hurlers took control of the McDonogh-Spalding battle, rendering both lineups mostly harmless in the pitchers’ duel.
McDonogh hurler Andrea Ottomano definitely deserved a better fate after allowing just seven hits and one walk in a route-going performance.
Neither run was charged to her, which lowered her earned run average to 2.24 for the season.
Amaya Carroll was just as terrific for the No. 10 Cavaliers (9-4, 6-3 conference), as she yielded just five hits, walked two and fanned nine while being touched for one earned run by the sixth-ranked Eagles (14-4, 6-3).
She helped her own cause in the field by making a diving grab of a bunt attempt by freshman shortstop Harper Allee-Press and firing to first to double up Chapman, who had singled, to end the third inning.
Carroll also drove in the first run in the fourth inning on a ground out after senior second-baseman Sarah Slaton reached on an error and went to third on a single by junior designated player Jordan Moore.
The Eagles pushed across the tying run in the fifth inning when freshman designated player Abby Nevin led off with an infield single, scooted to second on junior first-baseman Carsyn Belanger’s sacrifice bunt, traveled to third on sophomore second-baseman Emma Lach’s infield singe and stole home on a throw-through to second on a double steal.
Spalding senior catcher Angela Sena’s throw to second was meant to be caught and returned in time to cut down Nevin at the plate.
“We just didn’t execute the play,” Sena said.
Sena had better fortune calling Carroll’s pitches, considering that the Eagles never dented the plate again.
The veteran catcher said that an inside screwball was Carroll’s best pitch.
“We kept throwing it until they could do something with it,” she said.
Spalding finally snapped the deadlock in the eighth when freshman ITR Jessica Gannon stole third and raced home on junior first-baseman Makenzie Maenner’s grounder to short.
The Eagles threatened in the bottom of the inning, but could not solve Carroll, who induced three groundouts to strand Lach at third.
Carroll was very careful with senior slugger Madison Gemmell at the plate with two outs and Lach dancing off third, giving her what was in essence an intentional walk while hoping she would chase a bad pitch.
McDonogh coach John Folfas said that Gemmell had a phenomenal four years for a team that claimed its first championship in 17 years last May.
“She was the engine that drove us,” he said about the standout catcher who drove in the only run in last year’s title test.
That’s why Bell was so cautious with Gemmell in the eighth inning.
“She didn’t hurt us today,” the coach said. “And we didn’t want to give her the opportunity to hurt us in that spot.”
Spalding coach Delaney Bell said she had no reservations about giving Carroll her third start since being injured in such a pressure-packed situation.
“That doesn’t bother her,” Bell said.
Carroll said that she didn’t want it to be the Cavaliers’ last game of the season.
“I trusted in everybody on our team,” she said. “And they backed me up.”
The Cavaliers cannot sleep on John Carroll on Saturday. The Patriots went just 3-5 in league play and moved over .500 overall (8-7) for the first time since a season-opening win over Harford Tech, with yesterday’s victory, but JC has won five straight and has beaten top-ranked Bo Manor and now No. 10 Mount de Sales twice in the last nine days.
Thursday game with the Sailors was a battle of pitchers through five innings as John Carroll nursed a 1-0 lead. The two teams, however, combined for 13 runs over the final two innings to account for the 8-6 final.
John Carroll scored three in the sixth and four more in the top of the seventh to go up 8-2, after a single run by the Sailors in the home half of the sixth. Mount de Sales then mounted five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh, before the Patriots held on for victory.
Brianna Botkin powered the John Carroll lineup with three hits in four trips and five RBI’s. Sarah Spaeth delivered a two-run double and scored a run, while Emma Ritter had two hits, including a double, and two walks, while scoring three times. In addition, Emma Kropkowski was 2-for-3.
Kropkowski went the distance on the mound and only two of the six runs she allowed were earned. She tired in the seventh when she allowed three doubles, two walks and hit a batter, but hung in there to get the final out with a pair of Sailors in scoring position.
Julie Rowe went 3-for-4 with two RBI’s to lead Mount d Sales.
Pictured above: Although Spalding junior first baseman Makenzie Maenner missed this pitch from McDonogh hurler Andrea Ottomano, she did knock in the winning run on a grounder to short in the eighth inning of the Cavs’ 2-1 victory on Thursday.
IAAM A CONFERENCE SOFTBALL SEMIFINALS
NO. 10 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 2, NO. 6 MCDONOGH 1, 8 INNINGS
AS 000 100 01 — 2
McD 000 010 00 — 1
Amaya Carroll and Angela Sena; Andrea Ottomano and Madison Gemmell
JOHN CARROLL 8, NO. 10 MOUNT DE SALES 6
JC 000 103 4 — 8 10 2
MDS 000 001 5 — 6 7 3
Kropkowski and N/A; Beayon, Tolle (7) and Cluster
2B: JC-Ritter, Spaeth; MDS-Rowe, Amar, N/A.