A microcosm of its near-perfect season, the Archbishop Spalding softball team's domination of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference was on full display against Institute of Notre Dame in yesterday's conference championship game.
The No. 2 Cavaliers had every aspect covered in their 6-0 win over the Indians, highlighted by junior pitcher Elaine Nescio's one-hit performance.
Junior outfielder Jennifer Rindone sparked a balanced offense by going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored, the Cavaliers played flawless defense and Nescio helped by finishing with 11 strikeouts.
"That's why this team is such a special team," Spalding coach Paul O'Brien said. "It really comes from everyone - very good pitching, good hitting, great defense. It really was a complete effort, and everyone did something today. It's absolutely perfect."
The win caps a 17-1 season that included a 14-0 record in conference play. Second baseman Meghan Van Meter, shortstop Delaney Bell and first baseman Casey O'Neill, all seniors, leave the program with three conference titles in four years.
The Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Van Meter doubled down the third base line with two outs and scored on Rindone's single up the middle.
Rindone produced with two outs again in a two-run third, driving in Andrea Catucci with a double and then scoring on an error to make it 3-0.
It was plenty for Nescio, who took a no-hit bid into the seventh before Jordan Driscoll reached on an infield single. Nescio, who replaced four-year standout Stephanie Weigman this season, was overpowering and crafty in keeping the Indians baffled.
"I've been around Spalding softball since I was little, reading about all the girls that have come through," Nescio said. " ... It's nice to be part of it and continue it because they've all gotten championships, so it was nice to get one for myself, the team that's here now and especially the seniors who are leaving."
Institute of Notre Dame advanced to the championship game with a 5-2 upset over second-seeded Mount de Sales in the semifinals played earlier yesterday.
Sophomore Cassey Rogers sparked a three-run seventh inning with a two-run single to give the Indians a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the inning. The Sailors got one run back, but pitcher Kayla Mohr worked her way out of a bases-loaded jam to send the Indians on to the final.
Junior pitcher Emily Trosch helped her cause with a two-run single in the top of the fifth that gave McDonogh a lead it would not relinquish, and the Eagles beat Notre Dame Prep, 5-3, in the B Conference final.
It was the first conference championship for McDonogh, which upended defending champ Maryvale Prep in the semifinals to reach its second straight title game.
The Eagles were trailing 2-0 in the fourth when catcher Stacy Berg doubled home a run and scored on Alex Dansicker's single.
Trosch allowed five hits and kept the Blazers off the scoreboard in the last two innings to get the win.
"It's really exciting," Trosch said.
"Midway through the season we lost a few games in a row, but by the end of the season everything came together and we were able to turn it around. It feels so good. I was really nervous - I didn't want to go out there and lose it again, so this is an awesome feeling."
Sophomore Jessica Butler tossed a one-hitter, striking out 15 to lead Towson Catholic over St. Paul's, 1-0, for its second straight C Conference crown.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, Towson Catholic third baseman Rebekah Alban hit a triple to left-center field and ended up scoring on a throwing error.
"I looked behind me and saw [the ball] go in our dugout and knew that's all we needed because we were on," said Towson Catholic coach Wayne Smith, who also credited the play of St. Paul's.
The Owls (18-2) went 14-0 in C Conference play and also finished 4-0 against B Conference teams this spring. firstname.lastname@example.org