The St. Catherine softball team provided ample evidence to the old belief that it is difficult to beat a team three times in a single season. After twice losing to rival Collegiate during the regular season, the Saints utilized aggressive play to take advantage of Cougar miscues and win the LIS championship for the second straight year, 7-3.
Collegiate committed all four of their errors in the first two innings which contributed to a 4-0 St. Catherine lead that proved too much to overcome.
“That’s not typical of the way we played this year,” said Collegiate coach Robbie Turner. “Our defense is what keeps us in games and we’ve been out-hit several times this year and won.
“I don’t know if the excitement of everything was too much,” Turner said. “We seemed loose when we were warming up but when got on the field, it was uncharacteristic of the way we usually play.”
St. Catherine sophomore pitcher Molly Phillips did her part in holding the Cougars in check with a one-hit complete game effort.
“She has great movement on the ball and when she hits her target she’s almost unhittable,” said Saints’ coach Tara DiGiacomo.
On offense, the Saints’ batter took advantage of a slow start by Collegiate sophomore pitcher Katie Mccauley, forcing her from the game in the top of the third inning.
“They jumped all over Katie and I think everyone was hitting her and hitting her hard,” DiGiacomo said.
Sophomore Emily Shinn came on in relief and did a good job of quieting the Saints but the Cougar pair gave up 13 hits in the game.
On offense, Phillips was also productive at the plate and got things going from the beginning with a lead-off single to left-center. She advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Anne Szymendera. Mary Kate Crook’s shot to second turned into a throwing error that allowed Phillips to score.
Collegiate intentionally walked powerful Saints batter Raven Baytops and a bobbled shot to second from Lale Herguner loaded the bags.
“The girls were just ready,” DiGiacomo said. “They had that fire in their eyes from the first pitch and they were ready to finish what we got started.”
Crook made the lead 2-0 on a fly to center by Alex Chriscoe but base-running miscues allowed Collegiate to escape without further damage.
Baytops attempt to reach third on the play resulted in a run-down, pushing her back to second where Herguner already stood. Baytops was tagged as she dove back to the bag and Herguner pulled off to prevent two runners being on the base at the same time. As a result, Herguner was caught in a rundown between second and first where she too was tagged out.
In the top of the second the Saints doubled their lead. Mia Harris reached on a throwing error and came home on a single from Szymendera. After being walked, Rachel Daniels came in on a shot to short by Crook.
Chriscoe made the lead 5-0 in the top of the third, scoring on a double to left by Harris.
Shinn’s presence on the mound slowed, but did not halt St. Catherine’s in the fourth. The lead moved to 6-0 when a shot up the middle by Herguner drove in Crook.
Collegiate took advantage of a lapse from Phillips to answer in the bottom of the inning. Sarah Johnson led off with the Cougars only hit of the game then Phillips walked both Mallory Knighton and Caroline Cheatham to load the bags with no outs.
Johnson scored on a wild pitch. Next up, Phillips fielded a bunt from Gabby Gelozin but her throw to first was off, allowing Knighton and Cheatham to cut the Saints’ lead in half, 6-3.
“We knew they wouldn’t go away. Collegiate never quits,” said DiGiacomo. “I’ve seen it happen before and you get a big lump in your throat because you know they’re going to keep coming at you.”
But Phillips bounced back to take down the order in the final three innings to claim the championship.
Baytops scored off a Chriscoe single in the sixth to create the final score.
St. Catherine’s… 221 101 0 — 7 13 2
Collegiate…....... 000 300 0 — 3 1 4
Phillips and Crook; McCauley, Shinn (3) and Knighton. L — McCauley.
Records: St. Catherine’s 15-8; Collegiate 14-7