Defense costs Lansdale Catholic in loss to Cardinal O’Hara

LANSDALE — Defensive blunders can kill momentum quickly in the game of softball, and it looked as though Lansdale Catholic found that out the hard way on Monday as they suffered a 6-4 loss to Cardinal O’Hara.

At crucial points down the stretch, and specifically in the sixth inning, the Crusaders’ outfielders and infielders were on different pages, and it ended up costing them.

“Shannon (Hill) has a great change-up also, but she was keeping it up a little bit and when it was up in the zone they were hitting it hard,’ said LC head coach Paul Suder. “Having said that, our defense needs to make the plays; those two fly balls in the inning that they tied the game need to be caught.’

The game started out fast for both teams.

O’Hara came out swinging in the top of the first and was able to put up three runs on LC pitcher Hill to set the tone early.

A double from leadoff hitter Maura Kane started things for the Lions. An error by the Crusaders defense, and a couple more hits from O’Hara, and just a couple minutes into the game LC was already in a pretty deep hole.

“They were on fire,’ said O’Hara coach Bob Adams. “We’ve been emphasizing swagger with them all year, they can beat anybody but when we lose this year we’ve been beating ourselves. We had a special practice yesterday and went over the fundamentals.

“We basically just retaught them the basics and regrouped last week after a tough week, this was a very pivotal game for us.’

It would have been easy for LC to beat up on themselves and shrink when the pressure was on, but the Crusaders didn’t.

They put up four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, three of which came on one swing.

Cleanup hitter Kaelyn Motts hit a shot high in the air that ended up getting caught in the gusting wind and pushed out over the fence for a three run homerun to give LC the 4-3 lead.

And while he welcomes the power from his team, Suder knows that’s not their game and they can’t rely on it.

“Although Motts had a big home run out there today, we don’t have a whole lot of doubles and triples type hitters,’ he said. “We really hit more singles and line drives so for us to be good we need to be aggressive early. If not we’re going to get behind in the count early and that’s where those change-ups will kill you.’

After a first inning like that you’d think the game was set up to be a shootout, but after the opening frame both pitchers settled in and neither allowed another run until the sixth inning.

O’Hara starter Mary Pat Brough looked especially impressive from the circle. She used her change-up to keep hitters off balance all afternoon, and never really found herself in much trouble after that three run shot in the first.

“Mary Pat just kept her head in the game,’ said Adams. “The field is kind of short here, and the wind kind of took that one out but she stayed in it. She just needed to regroup and start from scratch and that’s what we did.’

Even with Brough pitching well, the Crusaders and Hill were in line to grab the PCL victory, until some wind and miscommunication got in the way.

Two bloop shots to right field that looked as though they should have been caught ended up dropping for hits, allowing O’Hara to eventually bring in the tying run in the sixth off of another double by Maura Kane.

“We lost three seniors in the outfield so we’re young and that’s where some of the miscommunication comes from,’ said Suder.

“Those two need to be caught, the little one to right field and the one to right center we just weren’t aggressive enough. The outfielder is looking for the infielder to make a call and the infielder is looking for the outfielder to make a call instead of just knowing it’s the outfielder’s ball all the time.’

O’Hara ended up tacking on two more runs in the top of the seventh, giving them the lead and the eventual victory in this pivotal PCL clash, something that Adams says hasn’t always been their strong suit and has been a point of emphasis for the coaching staff.

“We’ve got to get them motivated,’ he said. “We’ve had a bad habit of getting behind and getting down on ourselves and giving up so we’ve emphasized making noise as a team, banging the gate, and staying in it and that’s what they did.’

They definitely stayed motivated in this one as they kept swinging the bats and eventually got the balls to drop.

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