ELYRIA — All it took was one mistake to turn Elyria Catholic into a 4-3 winner over Normandy on Thursday (April 14) in a Great Lakes Conference game.
With the score tied 3-3 with two outs in the seventh, Olivia Madera lofted a routine fly ball to center field that was dropped, allowing Sam Filiaggi to scamper home with the winning run and improve the Panthers to 6-3 overall and 2-0 in conference play.
The only error of the game gave Ashley Cascio (6-1) the win in relief. She came in for freshman Paige Sexstella, who battled through six innings and allowed three earned runs, while striking out three, before giving way in the final inning.
“I am very happy being a freshman playing varsity and getting the opportunity to come out and help the team,” Sexstella said. “I love this team. They constantly picked me up the whole game and everyone was so positive both on and off the field.”
The Invaders’ miscue erased an impressive performance by starting pitcher Emily Frank, who allowed three earned runs. Frank was perfect at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double, a home run to dead center and all three RBIs for Normandy.
The back-and-forth affair started in the bottom of the third. EC scored first when Bridgette Pronesti singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and came home when Ally Kamody dropped a fly ball between three Invader players in the outfield for a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long. Frank crushed a Sexstella pitch over the fence in center for a two-run homer.
Elyria Catholic answered right away, when Emily Hastings walked and went to third on singles by Olivia Madera and Meghan Allegretto. Hastings tied the game 2-2, coming home on a passed ball.
The Panthers took the lead with Filiaggi and Hastings once again involved.
Filiaggi reached on a bunt, stole second and scored when Hastings singled to left to give Sexstella the lead on the mound.
The Invaders scored to tie it 3-3 in the sixth when Natalie Stotan singled and came home on Frank’s double to the fence in right-center. Sexstella ended the threat by getting an infield popup.
Frank got through the first two EC batters in the seventh before Filiaggi singled, stole second and then stole third after reading a pitch.
“We are taught that if the ball is going to hit the ground, take off right away to force a good throw to get me out,” Filiaggi said. “With my speed, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be able to steal that base.”
“That is something we work on all the time, reading that ball that could be going into the dirt,” Panthers coach Ryan Minney said. “Not all of our girls are at that point yet, but Sam read it well and was able to get to third base, which turned out to be really big.”
Minney praised his pitching
“(Sexstella) can throw the pitches, but we’ll keep working on location,” he said. “She got hurt on the ball down the middle that got hit out. She has a lot of talent on the mound and she is going to be a great pitcher for us in years to come.
“(Cascio) was right there for us at the end when we needed her. You always have to be ready to play and she showed that coming in a pitching well in the seventh inning.”