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Aggressive Gloucester Cath. wins softball semifinal

Passive and aggressive.

Passive and aggressive.

That's how Holy Cross softball coach Walt Walsh described it.

Holy Cross was passive and visiting Gloucester Catholic was aggressive Tuesday in an NJSIAA South Non-Public B quarterfinal.

The aggressive Rams won, 4-2.

Gloucester Catholic, seeded No. 5, is scheduled to meet No. 1 seed Wardlaw-Hartridge on Thursday. The Rams have won 13 consecutive games, and if defense wins championships, they have reason to be upbeat.

Gloucester Catholic had no errors against No. 4 Holy Cross (16-6). One reason the season ended abruptly for the Lancers was errors: They committed four - and they were costly.

Two of those miscues occurred in the first inning, when Gloucester Catholic collected all of its runs. Rams shortstop Carly Todd drove in the first two with a double to center field off Lancers ace Taylor Steele. Olivia Lawrence and Todd came home on infield errors for a 4-0 lead.

Gloucester Catholic's aggression was exemplified by Shayla Giosia and Lawrence, who executed a double steal in the opening inning. Both eventually scored.

Walsh said to fire up his players, he reminded them that Gloucester Catholic had eliminated the Lancers from last year's semifinals, 1-0. But according to him and one player, they weren't focused at the start of the game.

Gloucester Catholic coach Tom Sullivan reminded his players that the Rams are the defending state champions and that Holy Cross was a stepping-stone back to the throne.

"We knew that their pitcher could throw, so we definitely had to come out on fire, and in the first inning, we took the lead and we needed that," said Lawrence, a senior.

Holy Cross made a comeback bid in the third inning, when Gianna Saraullo and Taylor Cowan smacked back-to-back singles with two outs to bring home Jen Skapetsos and Stephanie Wood and narrow the score to 4-2. However, pitcher Abby Merryman threw to first base for the third out after Tara Mason hit a grounder to her.

Merryman, who gave up five hits - none for extra bases - said she felt comfortable throwing. She improved to 16-4.

Steele, who had 11 shutouts this season, finished 16-6.

Gloucester Catholic   4000000 - 440

Holy Cross   0020000 - 254

WP: Abby Merryman. LP: Taylor Steele. 2B: GC-Carly Todd.