Senior Ashley Lesniewski pitched a four-hit shutout to lead no. 7 Mount de Sales (16-4) to a 6-0 victory over visiting Catholic (11-6) in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference softball semifinals.
The win advances the Sailors to the championship game against defending champion Seton Keough on Monday, May 13, at 6 p.m. at Bachman Park.
It will be the Sailors' first trip to the title game since they won the crown in 2004. Seton Keough is the defending champion.
“It’s exhilarating,” said Lesniewski, who struck out six and walked one. “We waited four years for this. It’s like a dream come true and I’m really pumped. The whole team wants it.”
She was aided by two double plays, the first coming after a liner to shortstop Ronnie Rittie and the second after a bunt to third baseman Hannah Cimerola.
Cimerola fired to first baseman Stefani Senkus and she threw shortstop Rittie, who made the tag at third base.
The Sailors had eight singles, led by Jess Jurney and Emma Mires (two hits each) and capitalized on six Catholic errors.
Jurney, who had two home runs in a 15-1 triumph over Institute of Notre Dame in the quarterfinals, added a nice play in center field and second baseman Sarah Hughes also made a fine diving play on a ground out in the second inning.
“This team can play defense,” Sailor coach Pete Waskiewicz said.
Lesniewski, one of three seniors who has been on varsity for four seasons, along with Rittie and Hughes, appreciates the glovework even more.
“I couldn’t do it without my team,” she said.
Lesniewski came closest to allowing a run in the first inning after Savannah Zittle stroked a one-out triple down the right field line.
But, after two failed bunt attempts by Miranda Merkley, she struck her out and ended the inning by getting Courtney Torbeck to pop to first baseman Senkus.
The Sailors scored twice in the first after two-out hits by Lesniewski and Rittie and a Catholic error.
Hughes led off with a single in the second and scored the only run of the inning.
The Sailors tacked on three more runs in the fourth with Jurney driving in a run.
The appearance in the finals will be the Sailors first trip to the title game since they won the crown in 2004.
“We’ve been in the semifinals every year and we just couldn’t beat the heavy hitters,” Waskiewicz said. “This year, we finally did and these seniors and the juniors deserve it.”
The Sailors split with Seton Keough during the regular season and the matchup will feature pitching aces Lesniewski and Hannah Tavik.
“You aren’t going to find two pitchers better than those two,” Waskiewicz said.