In a scoreless game dominated by pitching, the most unlikely hero emerged for the Towson softball team with the biggest hit of the game.
Freshman Grace Hoey got her first varsity hit in dramatic fashion, turning an 0-2 pitch into a two-run triple that plated Allie Toohey and Julia Kallaur.
The hit was a slicing liner to right field, and Hoey scored on the play after an errant relay throw. The Generals add another run in the fifth inning and held on for a 4-3 victory.
The loss was the first for the Comets (7-1), who opened with seven straight victories.
“I was really nervous because I’m a freshman and this was one of my first games on varsity, and I was just thinking, like it’s OK to do bad, but just be ready for it, and I was ready for it, and it was just like unexpected,” said Hoey, who didn’t know how the ball got past the outfielder. “I wasn’t really paying much attention.”
Her teammates, including senior Olivia Ingrao, definitely were.
“It felt amazing. At the beginning, we were all a little nervous, but we really brought it all together and thanks to our freshman Grace Hoey we got it started,” Ingrao said.
The victory was the fourth straight for the Generals, who got a late start because they were in quarantine for the start of the season because of COVID-19.
“She [Hoey] was just called up on Friday, so that’s an exciting first hit, a big first hit,” Towson coach Jon Salvino said. “When you put the ball in play, that’s what happens.”
Salvino used starting pitcher Lexi Predmore for the first three innings, and she allowed doubles to Ally Lemerise and Abby Mitchell, two walks and no runs.
Jules Leatherwood pitched the final four innings and allowed three runs on three hits while striking out two.
“Our first pitcher threw a lot on Friday,” said Salvino, whose Generals swept Dulaney behind Predmore. “I’ve got complete trust in both of them. I could do that all year. They have both been really stepping up in the few games that we’ve had so far.”
All three of Catonsville’s runs came in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Sam Rickwalder started the rally with an infield hit and scored when Maggie Kreis reached on an error after a hard-hit ball to shortstop. Kreis scored on a double by Lemerise, and Lemerise came home on an RBI groundout by Aysha Partin.
The Comets threatened in the bottom of the first, loading the bases with two outs, but a sharp line drive by Alyssa Ochmann caromed off Predmore to second baseman Julia Kallaur, who threw to first for the out.
They also got Mitchell to third base in the second inning with two outs, but failed to drive her in.
In the bottom of the sixth, Catonsville pinch-hitter Kyleigh Grieve hit a one-out single and advanced to second after an error.
On the next play, Mitchell hit a grounder to third baseman Lexi Bradford, who appeared ready to throw to first, but turned around and tagged out Grieve diving back to second.
Towson extended its lead to 4-0 in the top of the fifth when it took advantage of two Catonsville errors sandwiched around a hit by Predmore.
“We talked about it before. We worked on it [defense] in practice and we will continue to work on it,” Catonsville coach Paul Harris said. “We’ve got some young kids here on this team, so hopefully we will be able to overcome this and get right back into what we’ve been doing all season, playing good, solid ball.”
The Comets have two regular-season games left: at Hereford on Wednesday and home against Perry Hall on June 2.
“It’s a tough loss, we’ll be alright,” Harris said. “I told them if we are going to lose one this season, I’d rather it be this one.”
The Comets were coming off a doubleheader sweep of Sparrows Point on May 21. The Pointers were the only team to beat Towson this season.
Salvino is just content to be playing games once again.
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“One game at a time, we can only focus on what we can control,” he said. “I told them I don’t know what teams are going to look like, but that doesn’t matter.”