By Joseph Staszewski
The Hilltoppers are finally true believers.
Mary Louis’ most complete performance of the season produced an impressive 4-1 victory over Fontbonne Hall in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens softball at Dyker Beach Park on April 26. TMLA now has victories over each of its three division foes.
“It gives us a lot more confidence knowing that every game we have a chance to win,” said Mary Louis junior ace Liz Hanover.
It is something first-year coach Rob Elkins and assistant Rich Bohack have been telling the group since they took over a team that is made up mostly of players who won a CHSAA JV city title in 2014.
“I told them two weeks in, ‘This is a really talented team. You’ve got to believe it, but you really are talented,’” Elkins said.
The recent success came after the Hilltoppers (3-3) cleaned up some of the ills that cost them early in the season. Late-inning errors allowed Fontbonne (3-2) to rally past TMLA 9-8 in their first meeting April 15. This time TMLA was flawless in the field.
“They know when they play well they can win,” Elkins said.
It was his club taking advantage of the Bonnies’ miscues this time around. Mary Louis took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on back-to-back singles by Taylor Milata and Sam Merino and a poor throw home after Giullia Gizzi’s ground-out. Milata went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Hanover gave the run back in the bottom of the frame on a triple by Bianca Marletta and a wild pitch, but worked out of a major jam in the third. She got a line out to Merino in center with runners at second and third with one out and induced a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the threat.
“I thought our defense was better than normal today,” said Hanover, who scattered seven hits. “It really made me feel more confident when I was pitching.”
Her offense gave her some breathing room with two tack-on runs in the top of the six. Milata led off with a solo home run to centerfield and an RBI-ground out by Casey Woo plated Merino to make it 4-1 to complete a fundamentally-sound performance that keeps TMLA in the hunt for a division title.
“We felt like we had to step up because we lost to everybody in the league and now we won against everyone in the league,” Milata said. “I think it was a big step up for us especially since we face everybody three times.”