BELLAIRE - A good pitcher in softball can really cover up any kind of deficiencies a team might have.
St. John Central has an elite pitcher and very few - if any - deficiencies, so it's easy to see why the Lady Irish are rolling along and still unblemished.
The Lady Irish (12-0) posted two more convincing victories at chilly Amanda's Field Saturday afternoon, posting 6-0 and 5-2 victories against a solid Bishop Donahue combine.
ST. JOHN Central pitcher Hannah Absalom delivers to the plate during the first inning of Saturday’s game against Bishop Donahue. She fanned 18 Lady Bishops in SJC’s 6-0 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
Lady Irish junior flame thrower Hannah Absalom was up to her same old tricks in the circle. She simply dominated the Lady Bishops' lineup to a tune of 18 strikeouts. She fanned the side in four of the seven innings.
"Anymore, there are so many strikeouts, our scorekeeper has to tell me because I lose track," said Lady Irish head coach Jerry Magistro. "Hannah deserves everything she gets. She's a great kid, hard worker and extremely coachable."
The only blemishes she allowed were a looping single that landed on the chalk line in right field and a hard shot down the third base line. She did issue one walk in the seventh inning.
However, just one Lady Bishop runner moved up any further than first base.
"She's by far the best pitcher we've faced or will face this season," Donahue head coach Curt Mele said. "She did a good job of shutting us down."
After Absalom did her thing to fan in the side in the top of the first, the hard-hitting Lady Irish offense went to work in the home half.
Senior standout Kaydie Coppa led off the game in style for the Lady Irish. She drove an Andrea Guzek offering well over the left-centerfield fence.
"That's the way you always hope to start a game ... by cracking the ball," Magistro said. "
The rally was just beginning for the Lady Irish. Absalom drew a walk and Morgan DeLuca followed by reaching on a fielder's choice without an out being recorded.
Guzek fought back to record a strikeout, but first baseman Sydney Helms roped a double into the left-center gap, plating both Absalom and DeLuca. Senior shortstop Kristen Russell then delivered a single. Helms raced home with the fourth run on a well-executed squeeze play by Amber LaMotte.
"You always feel comfortable when you get four and you have Hannah (in the circle)," Magistro said. "We hit the ball pretty well today."
Staked to the four-run lead, Absalom proceeded to sit down the first 13 in order before Selena Ghaphrey broke up the perfecto and no hitter with one looping liner in the fifth.
"I didn't want to see our kids get content with the four-run lead," Magistro said. "I thought we played well in every phase of the game. We pitched well, hit the ball well, ran the bases and played defense well."
St. John pushed across insurance runs in the fourth and sixth innings. LaMotte reached on a walk and eventually scored all the way from first on a sacrifice, heads-up base running and a throwing error.
Coppa, who was a triple shy of the cycle, drove in LaMotte with the final run of the game on a base hit.
"Small ball got us some runs," Magistro said. "We left girls in scoring position in three innings, so we need to improve on that. Bishop Donahue is a quality team, so this was a nice win for us."
Guzek suffered the loss in the circle. After the first inning, she really settled down. She fanned nine and walked only two.
"For some reason, I think there might have been some nerves in that first inning," Mele said. "We made some mistakes in the field and when you're playing St. John, you can't make those types of mistakes. I really thought it should have been a two or three nothing game, but they made the plays."
Donahue's other base hit was produced by lead-off hitter Tess Fallova with two outs in the sixth.
IN THE SECOND GAME, the Lady Irish built a 3-0 lead and then went on to post a 5-2 victory to complete the double-header sweep.
Absalom was again the winning pitcher, but did allow the two earned runs. She fanned four, but didn't walk a batter.
Coppa continued to swing a hot bat. She had a double, single and a RBI. Helms had two more doubles. Kyleigh Falcone had a RBI single and DeLuca drove in two runs.
Guzek had a double, single and a RBI. Abby Randolph had a RBI single.
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