No. 8 Sparrows Point softball tops 17th-ranked Perry Hall on breezy single in seventh

by Nelson Coffin

Having lost to No. 3 Lansdowne on a wind-blown hit earlier in the season, eighth-ranked Sparrows Point (7-1) evened out that bad break on its home field Friday afternoon against No. 17 Perry Hall.

That’s when junior Sidney Monaldi’s breeze-aided pop fly fell just beyond the out-stretched arms of Perry Hall sophomore second baseman Ellie Buckheit and dropped into short right field to score senior Alyssa James from second base to lift the Pointers a 3-2 victory in seven innings.

“We got a little help today with the wind,” Sparrows Point coach Duke Vickery said. “We’ll take it.”

The Pointers also enjoyed plenty of help from starting pitcher Jessica Miller, who allowed only one earned run on four hits while striking out nine.

The senior right-hander walked only one batter in a superb route-going performance.

Despite developing a finger blister, Miller ignored the pain by constantly shaking her pitching hand before each offering to emerge with a key win between the Baltimore County public school rivals.

“My hands tend to get dried out,” she said. “And I have a blood blister. It’s pretty stressful, but I just calm down and start throwing again. It’s just an emotion I go through.”

Her counterpart in the circle, Perry Hall senior righty Melanie Deitrich was almost as stingy, although she did get touched for a first-inning two-run homer by junior first baseman Megan Hamp to bring home sophomore Sarah Jensen, who was on board via a single.

After that drive to deep right-center, Deitrch really settled down to hold off the Pointers until the fateful seventh that began with James’ single to left. She moved to second on an intentional walk to sophomore Alyssa Shiflett.

After Deitrich coaxed a pop to second by sophomore Jada Foos, Monaldi got just enough of the bat on the ball to dunk it into right field.

Nevertheless, Perry Hall coach Allison Bittner said that Dietrich’s new approach to pitching this spring is working.

In the second inning through the sixth frame, she held the Pointers scoreless on just three hits while fanning four. Deitrich retired the side in the fifth on just three pitches.

“She’s always cool, calm and collected,” Bittner said. “Even when she puts runners on, nothing seems to rattle her.”

Trailing, 2-0, Perry Hall halved the deficit on Buckheit’s single, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly by junior catcher Olivia Neff in the fourth.

The Gators (5-2) deadlocked the score in the sixth when sophomore left fielder Sarah DeVincent blasted a triple and came home on a bang-bang play at the plate after a fly by junior first baseman Casey Bender was caught by sophomore left fielder Savannah Hunter.

DeVincent barely avoided being tagged out at the plate after a Hunter’s strong throw arrived about the same time as the sliding Gator.

Hunter, who committed her first error of the year — and the only miscue of the game for either team — in the fifth, made a terrific play while coming in on the ball and firing a strike a millisecond too late to the plate.

Vickery said that his team’s fielding has been a strong suit all season, helping the Pointers to one-run wins over Eastern Tech and the Gators.

“We’re one of the smaller schools (Class 1A) in the county,” Vickery said. “I think that makes the girls put in a little extra effort.”