By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published October 18, 2007
Whenever Marist School and St. Pius X High School come face to face in athletics, neither the sport nor the gender of the players nor the level of competition is a matter of consideration. It all comes down to the play inside the lines, the team that wants it the most, and in the case of last week’s regional softball tournament the team that leaves it all on the diamond.
Marist School hosted the 6-AAAA regional softball tournament on their field Oct. 8-12. St. Pius defeated Miller Grover High School 6-0 and Southwest DeKalb High School 5-0 to earn the right to play Marist Oct. 11 in the finals of the winners bracket. The winner automatically received a spot in the championship game the next day. The loser would play Southwest DeKalb High School in the loser’s bracket finals for the other spot in the championship.
St. Pius started junior pitcher Erin Meyers, and Marist countered with their ace pitcher and sophomore sensation Lori Spingola. While softball, like baseball, is a team sport, what makes it exciting is the one-on-one confrontation between the pitcher throwing her best pitch across the plate and the batter trying to make contact and put the ball in play.
Through almost two innings, with the exception of an occasional pop up or ground out, Meyers and Spingola were throwing the high school heat. Meyers recorded three strikeouts to Spingola’s two. All that could be heard between the chatter and cheers of the opposing dugouts was the batters swinging through pitches, the pop of the ball hitting the inside of the catcher’s mitt and the sound of the umpire’s strike call.
In the bottom of the second inning Spingola helped her own cause when she hit a triple off Meyers to left centerfield. Marist outfielder Mary Quattrocchi came in to run for Spingola and scored from third base, off of a pitch mishandled by the catcher. That would be the only run of the game. Spingola would record 10 more strikeouts on her way to a perfect game.
The final line on the scoreboard read: Visitors (Pius) – no runs, no hits and no errors; Home (Marist) – one run, one hit and no errors.
Meyers finished with six strikeouts after three innings of play. Junior pitcher Pepper Gay, who came in for relief of Meyers, also recorded six strikeouts and held Marist hitless the remainder of the game.
Despite the loss the St. Pius team had to retain its focus because immediately following the Marist game they had to take on Southwest DeKalb to determine the finalist out of the loser’s bracket. St. Pius prevailed 6-0. In five innings of pitching, Gay recorded nine strikeouts and allowed one hit. Meyers got the save, allowing one hit and recording four strikeouts. Gay also did it with her bat as she went 2 for 2 with two RBIs, walked and scored a run. Gay set a school record with 15 walks for the season. Sophomore catcher Gabriela Sherrod also went 3 for 4, hitting her third triple of the season and scoring a run.
The very next day, Oct. 12, Marist and Pius returned to the same field of play to determine the region champion. Gay was the starting pitcher for St. Pius, and Spingola stepped in for Marist. Using every inch of her six-foot frame, Spingola struck out the first six batters she faced on her way to another perfect game. Once again the Marist offense took a one-run lead in the bottom of the second inning. Mary Trapani led off with a walk. Quattrocchi came in to run for Trapani. With two outs a Pius error allowed Quattrocchi to score.
Both pitchers continued to pitch outstanding games. Striking out opposing batters and holding them to pop-ups or groundouts, the two teams went hitless for three and half innings until junior third baseman Kelsey Sharp doubled in the sixth inning. Sharpe successfully stole third base, and junior shortstop Kelly Miller grounded out to drive Sharp in for the second and final run of the game.
Gay had 11 strikeouts in the 2-0 loss and Spingola finished with 15 strikeouts as Marist captured its second consecutive region championship over St. Pius.
The two teams could meet again as the north sectional of the state playoffs get underway Oct. 19. St. Pius will take on Rockdale County High School in their opening game (4 p.m.) and Marist will face Eastside in theirs (6 p.m.). The games take place at Twin Creeks Park, Woodstock.