FISHER – Home runs provide a dramatic moment in softball. No-hitters emphasize how dominant one individual was during the course of the game.
For high schoolers, homers and no-hitters aren't everyday occurrences.
What happens, however, each time two schools play is that a winner and a loser is determined. The success – or failure – of teams often comes down to the execution of the finer fundamentals. St. Thomas More's 6-5 triumph against Fisher is a perfect example.
In the final box score, senior Mallory Millage had one hit in three at-bats. She drove in two runs, but neither scored because of her single.
The RBI were the result of her ability to execute. Millage put down a suicide squeeze in the fifth inning to knock in Brittany Einck.
In the seventh, when the Sabers took the lead for the first time, she hit to the right side of the infield while sister Becca Millage was perched on third base. Becca's run was the first of three the team scored in its final at-bat.
"The kids are starting to understand the game and that opportunities don't happen too often," St. Thomas More co-head coach Chris Mennig said.
When he took over the program in 2006, knowledge of the game was not a team strength.
"I jokingly called them The Bad News Bears, Part II," Mennig said.
He developed a plan to school them in the basics, hoping for the first above-.500 season in Year 3 of his tenure.
On Monday, St. Thomas More (10-8-1) reached the 10-win mark for the first time in school history.
"They've put in the time," Mennig said. "It's been fun to see their understanding of the little parts grow."
Einck stifled the Bunnies' final rally in the bottom of the seventh inning with the potential tying run represented by Paige Kirby at third base and the potential winning run represented by Breanna Weldon at second base. Einck got the second out of the inning on a popup to her and ended the game with her eighth strikeout.
"It was a battle of wills between two people, and it comes down to who wants it more," Mennig said. "Einck is such a competitor."
The sophomore right-hander (6-3) allowed two earned runs.
"I just stayed calm," she said.
Nine Sabers had hits against Caleigh Hennigh, who walked no one, but only Einck (2 for 4) had more than one.
Kirby was Fisher's top batter, going 2 for 4. Teammate Madison Bayler drove in three runs, including one on a suicide squeeze in the first inning.
Fisher right fielder Lindsey Williams fielded one of the Sabers' hardest-hit balls, a line drive by cleanup batter Andrea Palazzola and denied her a hit by throwing to first baseman Chelsea Williamson for an out. Fisher is 4-8.