June 2nd, 2012

Ballard Blanks Rockets In 7th Region Semis

Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer


Ballard Blanks Rockets In 7th Region Semis
photo by Paul Najjar

Assumption's Foley strikes out 13 in loss to Ballard

If Assumption and Ballard were scheduled to play softball this year, expect a rain delay. A long rain delay.

And so it was déjà vu all over again for the Assumption Rockets softball team against the Ballard Bruins in the semifinals of the 7th Region tournament.

In early April, the two teams had their game suspended in the bottom of the 2nd inning due to severe weather conditions with Ballard leading 4-0. They resumed the game three weeks later and Ballard earned a 9-3 win.

The regional semifinal game began Thursday evening at the University of Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium. When lightning and severe weather hit the area, the game was delayed and then suspended in the bottom of the 2nd inning with a 0-0 score and neither team reaching base. See the link?

Assumption’s ace pitcher Morgan Foley struck out four of the first six batters she faced and looked strong in those first two innings. But the Bruins stung her for a run in the fourth inning and then tacked on two more unearned runs in the fifth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Foley’s counterpart, Ballard sophomore Jessica Adell, tossed a one-hit shutout and kept the Rockets’ big bats at bay turning that lead into a 3-0 victory.

“Both teams struggled to put hits together, but they just managed to string a couple things together and we didn’t,” said Assumption head coach Jennifer Hunt. “In a game with two solid teams like this, that’s all it takes: somebody to blink or make an error.”

Hunt may have been referring to the two runs the Rockets allowed in the fifth. Foley was touched for a run in the fourth inning when senior second baseman Katie Kelly lashed a single to left field to break up Foley’s no-hitter. Kelly stole second and scored on freshman catcher Alexis Hull’s double to the left centerfield fence. Hull was erased at third base on a caught stealing, but that first run loomed large in this game as Adell was a tough read for the Rockets.

“We had a couple of hard hits and made some good contact, but we never could muster anything,” said Hunt. “She (Adell) did a really good job of keeping the ball low where we couldn’t lift anything and hit a lot of ground balls right at their defense. We couldn’t get a break on offense.”

Nor could the Rockets afford to give away any breaks to the Ballard offense. But that’s exactly what happened to start the top of the fifth.

With strong, swirling winds moving around Ulmer Stadium, Ballard senior third baseman Meghan McCreery skied an innocent looking fly ball that hovered around the second base bag. Assumption shortstop Alyssa Tarquinio called for it, but had to keep drifting to her left as she settled under it. The ball popped out of Tarquinio’s glove and McCreery, hustling from the crack of the bat, made it to second base.

Foley got Madison Wise to pop out and then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed McCreery to advance to third base. Adell drew a walk and sprinted all the way to second base, daring the Rockets to make a play on her in hopes of drawing a throw that would allow McCreery to score from third. The Rockets did not make a play on Adell and had to deal with runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out.

The Bruins’ Allison Wiseman then laid down a bunt that Foley picked up, but her flip toss to catcher Emily Wiley was wide of the target allowing both baserunners to score and giving Ballard a 3-0 lead.

The Rockets lone hit came in the fifth inning off the bat of sophomore first baseman Lillie Nitzken. Nitzken’s leadoff hit was followed by two strikeouts and a ground out to end the threat.

It was a tough defeat for the Rockets, who finished 32-7-1. The loss to Ballard, 34-4-1, ended a season of benchmarks for the Assumption softball program. Seniors Foley, centerfielder and leadoff hitter Emily Carmack and third baseman Carly Barrett all move on, creating opportunities for some younger players.

“Those three kids are super special, they’re fantastic leaders and we hurt the most for them,” said Hunt. “They set the tone and turned this program around this year. We set a record for most wins by an Assumption softball team and they put us back on the map. We have a group that really cares about each other and supports each other. They created an atmosphere that was really positive and they spent a lot of time together off the field. They have strong character and they play with class.”

For Foley, the ace of the Assumption staff for the past two seasons, she’ll miss her teammates and the magic that came with winning 32 games. The University of Indianapolis signee recorded 13 strikeouts on the evening. She threw a no-hitter this year and even struck out 18 batters in a game against arch-rival Mercy Academy. But first and foremost, she’ll take away the time with her teammates and big strides the program has made this season as she moves forward.

“This season has been amazing. My team was always there for me and made me feel like I’m part of a family,” said Foley. “That’s something I’ll always remember and I’ll carry that and the momentum of what we accomplished with me going into college.”

 

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