By Albert Countryman Jr.
On a breezy, cloudy evening under the lights, the Rams and Lions played a tremendous softball game.
Great pitching and defense were on display before more than 1,000 lively fans enjoying a Saturday night – and occasionally questioning a call or two by the umpires.
The Gloucester Catholic and Gloucester City softball teams are among the five best in South Jersey – and they proved it.
Also, it was an excellent tune-up for both teams before the state playoffs.
The Lions hosted a Group 1 game Thursday, May 21. The Rams began Parochial A tournament play on Wednesday, May 27.
But, on the field, thoughts of the playoffs were not in the players’ minds. Instead, this was the annual, cross-town rivalry game.
Seniors from both teams were honored during pre-game announcements with bouquets of roses. Then came the National Anthem, and the words, “Play Ball.”
Recovering from a shoulder injury, Lions’ star pitcher Taylor Chain walked Ali Robinson to start the game, but made a great play to force her out on a sacrifice bunt.
The Rams’ star pitcher, Nicole Hagerty, shut down the Lions in the bottom of the first, and made a great catch on a line drive off the bat of Ashley Zaccaria.
Chain started to loosen up and throw heat, striking out five of the next six hitters she faced. Hagerty shut down the Lions the next two innings, also, with solid defensive plays by Robinson, Christina Matranga, Brianna Rodriguez, Mary Kate Lally and Kristen Collins.
In the top of the fourth, Matranga started off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. She scored on a scorching line drive by Hagerty down the leftfield line to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. Chain struck out two batters with high heat to get out of further trouble.
Tabby Dick smoked a double into the outfield in the bottom of the fourth, but was left at second.
Chain retired the Rams in order in the fifth, and the Lions started a little rally. Brittney Dolson walked and Teresa Anderson was hit by a pitch. Courtney Dolson advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt.
Angela Harris hit a ground ball to shortstop Robinson, who decided to go home. Rams catcher Anderson blocked the plate with her leg, caught the ball on a short hop, and tug Dolson out on a bang-bang play. Some in the crowd thought she was safe.
Collins made a great catch on a fly ball by Grace Cooney to end the inning.
Chain continued to show the form that earned her four perfect games this year, getting the final six outs. In the sixth, fielders Cooney and Dick made good plays. In the seventh, Chain struck out the side.
She tried to get the Lions going on offense with a base hit, and took a nasty spill over the first base bag. However, Robinson made a solid play on Jill Stafford to end the inning.
Hagerty continued to pitch well, and the game ended on a pop up to shortstop.
The Rams beat the previously undefeated Lions, 1-0.
source Gloucester City News