It was a golden opportunity for the Holy Cross softball team.
Bordentown, the first-place team in the Burlington County League Patriot Division, was visiting yesterday, and a victory by Holy Cross would have given the Lancers first place in the division.
Holy Cross certainly had the motivation to win, but Bordentown gave it little opportunity. With an infield hobbled by the absence of a key player, an outfield that had trouble catching routine fly balls, and batters who found it difficult to hit Hillary Allen's fastball and changeup, Holy Cross fell, 6-0, to a team that played like a title contender.
"When we lost Amanda [Howard], it messed up the infield," said Lancers coach Walt Walsh, who has tried three players at second base since the senior sprained her ankle in a 7-4 win over Cherry Hill East on May 5. "She's a .970 fielder and our best hitter. It should have been a lot closer."
Maybe with Howard in the lineup it would have been more competitive. Two of Bordentown's runs were unearned. The Lancers (10-10 overall, 6-3 division) committed four errors.
Walsh has now shifted his focus to preparing his players for the postseason.
Like any good coach, Bordentown's Michele Brennan wasn't totally pleased with an easy, error-assisted victory. Brennan said that her Scotties (15-3, 7-1) could have done better even though they communicated well and played flawless defense behind a solid pitching performance by Allen and her catcher, Meghan McDonald.
"I felt that we should have capitalized more on situations we were given," Brennan said. "We stranded more runners [seven] than we would have preferred."
Heading into the NJSIAA playoffs, which begin next Saturday, Brennan said she wanted the team to establish a good rhythm.
The personification of that steadiness yesterday was freshman shortstop Megan Millington, who stroked a single off Holy Cross starter Megan Gilbride and two more off junior reliever Meghan Kimme.
The highlight of the game for Holy Cross came when sophomore Suzanne Gilbride smashed a one-out, first-inning triple off Allen. However, Allen, who has a 12-3 record, struck out the next batter, Megan Gilbride, Suzanne's sister, and got Kat Dych to pop up to Allen to end the inning.
Bordentown took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when a sacrifice fly by Ashleigh Johnson scored Allen. The Scotties added four runs in the fourth and stroked four singles in the seventh to score the final run.
Bordentown010 040 1 - 6110
Holy Cross000 000 0 - 024
WP: Allen. LP: Megan Gilbride. 3B: B–Allen, Villalba, Walls. HC–Suzanne Gilbride.