As Mount de Sales' batterswaved futilely at one Crystal Ray changeup after another yesterday, it was rather obvious the Sailors were not ready yet to challenge top-ranked Archbishop Spalding for the Catholic League softball championship.
Ray threw a one-hitter, and the Cavaliers easily cast aside the young Sailors, 9-1, to establish themselves as heavy favorites to capture an eighth straight Catholic League regular-season title and the eighth league tournament championship in nine years.
Mount de Sales came to Randazzo Field in Severn yesterday billed as the top Catholic threat this season to Spalding's long stay on top, but the Sailors left as another in a long line of victims of Ray's pitching talents.
There just aren't any teams in the area capable of catching up to Ray's blazing fastball, as long as she keeps mixing it with six other pitches, including a near back-breaking changeup.
This season, Ray is 4-0, having allowed one earned run in 28 innings. She also has 43 strikeouts and six walks and a career record of 26-2.
Against the overmatched Sailors (4-1 in the league, 6-2 overall) yesterday, Ray struck out 12, had no walks and didn't allow an earned run on the way to the one-hitter.
Sophomore first baseman Christina Wilcox prevented Ray from throwing a no-hitter with a two-out liner to left in the fourth inning.
"I wasn't disappointed when they got the first hit," said Ray. "I was still doing a good job, and the team was playing well. My changeup was the pitch today."
Mount de Sales broke up the shutout in the sixth, scoring on two errors.
"Crystal keeps using the changeup more and more, and it's become a great pitch for her," said Spalding coach Linda Taylor. "She doesn't rely as much on her drop or rise ball as she used to."
Spalding sophomore shortstop Sabrina Ryals provided the crowd-pleasing hit of the cold, windy afternoon -- a long inside-the-park home run to left-center in the fourth inning, pushing the lead to 6-0.
Ryals, a first-team All-Metro player last season at Glen Burnie, hit a 1-0 fastball from Christina Urban all the way to the fence.
"It was a a perfect pitch to hit," she said.
Pub Date: 4/10/97