Holding the IAAM B Conference softball championship trophy for the first time in a decade Tuesday, longtime Notre Dame Prep coach Emily Solel was asked what’s the common theme with those squads.
“They’re a family,” said Solel, who’s been at the Towson school for 19 seasons. “They became friends on and off the field.”
The Blazers were finally able to hoist the trophy with a 1-0 victory over St. John’s Catholic Prep at Bachmann Park in Glen Burnie.
Lucy Myers’ RBI triple in the fifth inning accounted for the game’s lone run while sophomore Gracie Gourlay tossed a two-hitter for Notre Dame (10-2 overall), which won its first B crown since 2012.
A year ago, Notre Dame Prep won one game (1-8) and was next-to-last in the B league.
“We changed our philosophy this year…we knew last year was not how we wanted to go,” said Solel. “We knew we needed to change the culture.”
Myers, one of seven impact freshmen, slapped a triple to leftfield, scoring fellow freshman Abby Pitz, who opened the fifth inning with a walk.
Myers, who had two hits Tuesday, didn’t strike out all season, according to Solel.
“I was picturing where the strike was going to be, but I also knew I couldn’t swing at a ball about my head,” said Myers. “I kept fouling the ball off until I got a pitch that I liked.”
Gourlay pitched six no-hit innings before losing it on a leadoff, first-pitch single by St. John’s Catholic’s Ella Lowry. With one out, Kate DelGrippo singled to right, advancing Lowry to third.
Sophie Schwabb’s bunt landed a couple of inches inside the third base line where Gourlay got to it as Loery started towards home plate. Gourlay dived to tag out Loery as she dove for third base for the second out.
Gourlay struck out the next batter, clinching a perfect run (7-0) for the Blazers through B Conference play. She struck out seven and walked one.
“I had to reset my mind,” said Gourlay after losing the no-hitter, “look in the eyes of my teammates and know I got this.”
The duo of Kaitlin Murphy (2 innings, 3 hits, 4 strikeouts) and Kate DelGrippo (4 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 7 strikeouts) pitched well enough to win for St. John’s Catholic.
“We got off to a rough start. Both pitchers were dynamite ‚” said Vikings coach Tim Murphy, whose team finished 4-9. “Just a couple of defensive mistakes allowed that one run to score and that’s why we’re looking at a L.”
Solel commended seniors Hannah Mitchum and Noelle Barczak for nurturing a young nucleus.
“The seniors on this team took the freshman under their wings and we became a family,” said Solel. “We put it together and it was a beautiful thing going from the bottom to the top.”
“I’m just overjoyed with excitement. I’m so thankful for God and giving us this win and everyone on the team,” said Gourlay. “They all really deserved it.”
IAAM B CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Bachmann Park
NOTRE DAME PREP 1, ST. JOHN’S CATHOLIC PREP 0
St. John’s Catholic 000 000 0 - 0 2 0
Notre Dame Prep 000 010 x - 1 4 0
Murphy, DelGrippo and Karanovich; Gourlay and Wagner
3B: Notre Dame Prep - Myers