Sometimes the margin between victory and defeat is very slim, just ask the St. Lucy’s Priory High School softball team which has been finding this out in their current post-season run through the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Regents pulled out another 1-0 win on Tuesday in Division 3 against Highland High School, mainly on the strength of yet another inspired pitching effort by junior lefty Danielle O’Toole, who less than a week ago shut out Burbank Burroughs.
St. Lucy’s also saw great defensive support from O’Toole’s teammates who played error free softball through seven innings against the visiting Bulldogs.
O’Toole bested her personal output against Burroughs on the road last week by striking out 13 hitters at home Tuesday, while giving up just three hits. Highland (22-4, 13-1) came into the game riding a 14 game winning streak including an 8-3 win against Notre Dame in the playoffs last week, but ran into a team which maybe playing its best ball at the right time.
“Danielle is pitching as well as she pitched maybe ever, but certainly for this program in the last two years that I’ve been coaching,” said Regents coach Ryan Nuveman, while adding the Regents have been trying to work on more defensive consistency of late.
St. Lucy’s opened the playoffs with an 11-9 win in their wild card game against Fillmore on May 17, but Nuveman said he was not happy with their defensive efforts.
“We are not consistent defensively, last Thursday (against Burroughs) we looked fantastic defensively, but the game before that we committed five errors.”
On Tuesday at least, the Regents saw some great defense from their infield. Highland opened the second inning with a double up the middle, but an outstanding diving play on a hard hit ground ball by junior Danielle Mavridis threw out a batter at first base and prevented a run from scoring.
The Bulldogs didn’t threaten again until their half of the 6th inning, putting together back-to-back singles, but by that time the Regents had scored the lone run they would need when in the bottom of the 4th a sacrifice to right field by O’Toole gave them the 1-0 advantage.
St Lucy’s benefited from a single by Laura Swan in the inning and from Brandi Harkness, who drew a walk from Highland pitcher Aryn Feickert to get the Regents’ rally started. Swan’s hit positioned Harkness at third, after which O’Toole’s fly out allowed her to score the eventual winning run.
Caroline Smith made a play on a potential two-out single to end a rally in the 6th inning when the Bulldogs had runners in scoring position and O’Toole recorded two more strikeouts in the 7th to secure the win.
Nuveman said in his assessment, Tuesday’s game featured the best rhythm between his catcher and pitcher all season.
“She pitched back to back near perfect games, she did give up three hits today but they were timely hits obviously, because they didn’t produce any runs,” Nuveman said, “We played some fantastic defense behind her- we didn’t commit any errors and played real tough as a team.”
O’Toole said there was no big secret formula behind her pitching routine. “Normally as a pitcher you have to assess what the hitters did before, you have to remember every batter, every pitch that you throw, you remember everything that happens.”
“You just throw your pitches, you make them move, and you make them work, and everything has to work. You have to throw what you have against them and you have to have confidence that it works.”