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Published: 5/13/2010

Springfield edges Notre Dame in softball

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Springfield's Jesse Zappone scores as Notre Dame catcher Jenna Inman tries to pick up the ball in yesterday's
Division I sectional final. The Blue Devils improved to 17-6. Springfield's Jesse Zappone scores as Notre Dame catcher Jenna Inman tries to pick up the ball in yesterday's Division I sectional final. The Blue Devils improved to 17-6.
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Springfield scored twice in the first inning of a softball sectional championship where runs came at a premium during brisk and breezy conditions at Rolf Park in Maumee.

The Blue Devils added a run in the third to knock off Notre Dame 3-1 in a Division I title game yesterday. Springfield starter Ashyln Michalak struck out eight and gave up four hits.

"When your team scores first it always gives you room to breath and it relaxes you," Michalak said. "I played a little looser."

Springfield (17-6) advances to face Southview (16-7) in an all-Northern Lake League district semifinal next Tuesday at Rolf Park at 5 p.m. The Cougars defeated Whitmer 4-0 in another sectional final yesterday.

The Blue Devils tallied two runs in the first inning on three hits.

Jess Zappone led off with a single. Zappone later scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. Cailyn Cordrey and Sarah Philippi then came up with back-to-back singles and Krista Haley, who had walked, scored for a 2-0 lead.

"That was huge," Springfield coach Rob Gwozdz said. "The conditions were chilly. We thought if we could jump up a little early it would pay huge dividends."

Notre Dame (12-11) started freshman Jenna Inman, who struck out five.

Springfield tacked on another in the third inning. Emily Rockman and Haley singled. Haley then scored on an error for a 3-0 Blue Devils cushion.

"Since day one, we've been working for states," Michalak said. "It's really exciting even though it's just the first step. Hopefully we can take a lot more steps."

Notre Dame got on the board in the fourth inning on Jessica Kusina's infield single that made it 3-1. The Eagles then had a potential rally snuffed out when Springfield turned a double play. On a sacrifice bunt, the Blue Devils got the out at first and then Lindsey Barton was called out at home on Rockman's quick throw to the plate.

"I don't think many softball observers gave us much of a chance," Notre Dame coach Norm Kujawa said. "But we played hard. We could have started the game with more intensity. I think that was the difference. They're used to playing in bigger games."

Kujawa said the pressure didn't faze Inman.

"She was composed but struggled with her rise ball the first half of the game," he said.

Michalak ended a ND threat in the third with a strikeout. Zappone and Philippi each had two singles, while Patrece Gibson had a double.

"Sarah Philippi did a nice job with the two RBIs," Gwozdz said. "That was good for the young sophomore."

The Blue Devils advance to face the Cougars, who they've defeated twice.

"It's NLL against NLL and it will be another good one. We're looking forward to the challenge," Gwozdz said. "One of our goals is to make a little tournament run."

Notre Dame (12-11) is 7-3 in the City League and still has a chance to qualify for the CL final four with a win over Bowsher. The Eagles threw a runner out at the plate in the second and turned a double play in the fourth.

"We raised our level of play," Kujawa said. "I couldn't be prouder. They played the game the right way. They played with heart and passion. We deserved to be out there."

Southview pitcher Olivia O'Reilly had a no hitter going against Whitmer in the seventh inning.

O'Reilly also had six assists and 10 strikeouts. The junior yielded just one hit.

"She showed up to play today," Southview coach Jim Zoltowski said. "She's a competitor in the circle."

The Cougars did not score until the bottom of the sixth. Paige Borgman led off with a single. Molly Gast then got a base hit that scored one. Emily Estrich, who went 2-for-3, drove in another run with a single. The two other runs scored on a throwing error.

In another sectional final at Rolf Park, Clay starter Cassi Laberdee had a perfect game with two outs in the seventh inning against Waite. But Fantasia Combs broke up the bid with a solid single up the middle.

Laberdee, a junior, struck out 14 in Clay's 9-0 shutout. Laberdee also went 2-3 with a double.

Clay advances to play St. Ursula in a district semifinal. The Arrows defeated Central Catholic 2-0 yesterday. St. Ursula starter Grace Ammons gave up just one hit in the win.

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6354.



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