Those five losses to open the season are just a distant memory for the St. Vincent-St. Mary softball team these days.
St. V-M continued its winning ways Friday by defeating host Archbishop Hoban 6-3 in eight innings. The Irish (6-5) won their sixth game in a row by scoring six runs in the final three innings.
Junior Nicole Paolucci led the Irish past the Knights (10-9) with two doubles, two runs batted in and two runs scored.
“It was amazing to get this win,” Paolucci said. “We have been working for this all season. We knew this pitcher is tough. She is good, but we kept our heads in there and we hit the ball.”
Irish senior Christen Hoffman outdueled Knights junior Kate Boylan in the pitching circle to improve her record to 4-3. Boylan is 9-5.
The teams were tied 3-3 after seven innings. Senior Katie Gilbride led off the Irish eighth inning with a double to left and Paolucci batted her in with a double to left.
“We all kept level heads,” Hoffman said. “We didn’t get down on ourselves and we knew we could do it. As soon as Nicole got that hit, we just knew that we had this game.”
Sophomore Courtney Johnson worked a one-out walk, and two batters later with two outs, sophomore Sydney Sloan smacked a double to left to score Paolucci and Johnson.
“I just wanted to hit the ball, especially after I struck out in my first at-bat [as a pinch-hitter in the seventh],” Sloan said. “I needed a hit for my team.”
Junior Alissa Younes gave Hoban a 2-0 lead in the fourth with a single that scored freshman Colleen Cain and junior Maddie Diestel. Senior Johanna Nicodemus and Diestel started the inning with singles. Cain entered to run for Nicodemus.
St. V-M tied it at 2-2 in the sixth. Hoffman singled and scored with two outs following a Paolucci double. Freshman Ariel Linberger proceeded to single in Paolucci.
The Knights took a 3-2 lead in the sixth courtesy of three Irish errors. Senior Natalie Bender singled in sophomore Lisa Harris. The Irish tied it at 3-3 in the seventh when sophomore Jackie Musci scored after two Knights errors.
“We stuck together, kept hitting the ball and kept our heads in the game,” St. V-M coach Tony Ninni said. “Even though we made a couple of errors, we came back from that. We started the season 0-5 and have won our past six games. We went through adversity at the beginning of the year, and I told the girls it would pay off when we got into close games later in the year.
“We have been playing good defense recently. It let us down a little bit in this game, but that has kept us in a lot of our games.”
Hoban has lost three out of its past four games.
“We are not playing very good softball right now,” Hoban coach Bob Mosher said. “For a team that is experienced as this team is, we are making a lot of mistakes. That starts with me, all the way down to some of the pitches I called today [that] maybe should have been different. We are not getting timely hitting when we need it and we are making way too many errors.
“I told the girls that they have to get back to the way we know we can play.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ. and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.