MARPLE — Maddie Masiko and Hanna Mae Legaspi are having a whole lot of fun this season.
The sophomores are the starting pitcher-catcher battery at Episcopal Academy. And they are serving notice to the Inter-AC League and everyone else who tries to beat them.
With a 12-0 victory against Cardinal O’Hara on Wednesday, the Churchmen continue to cruise along in their regular season. They are 8-0 overall and in firm control of first place in the Inter-Ac.
Masiko and Legaspi put on a clinic against O’Hara. Masiko crushed a two-run homer in the first inning, then pitched a four- hit shutout with 14 strikeouts. The speedy Legaspi ripped a pair of RBI triples and scored three runs while handling Masiko’s assortment of excellent pitches behind the dish.
“It’s so easy to pitch to her. If I throw a ball in the dirt, I know she is going to block it. If I miss a spot, she’s going to be there every time,” said Masiko, who recently eclipsed 100 strikeouts on the season. “And it’s really nice to have that, because obviously as a pitcher, you’re not going to be perfect. So having someone behind the plate like that is just so comforting. She’s great. If someone tries to steal, she’s always going to get them.”
Masiko and Legaspi are also teammates on the Pennsylvania Chaos 16-under national team, so they have developed a strong rapport in recent years.
“Getting to know her and play with her has been great,” Legaspi said. “She hits her spots whenever I ask and that’s what any catcher likes in a pitcher, that you can trust them. I definitely have her trust and she does such a great job.”
Both players are hitting far north of .400 on the season. They helped pace a 12-hit attack against the Lions. Masiko belted an over-the-fence homer to give EA a 3-0 lead after Sophia Santinelli smacked an RBI double for the game’s first run.
The three-run first was plenty of cushion for Masiko and Legaspi.
“When I pitch I am really confident because I know that everyone can field really well and everyone is focused at all times,” Masiko said. “It’s nice to know we have such a good team and that everyone wants to be here.”
Episcopal’s lineup is essentially a tournament team of quality to elite ballplayers, most of whom are underclassmen. The team’s three senior starters are outfielders Riley Spor, Olivia Cella and Evie Aldridge, who Masiko collectively calls “the rocks” of the team.
“They are the leaders of the team,” Masiko said. “They run our practices, they pump us up in between innings. And they are the reason, I think, that we have been playing so well, honestly. They always have your back and they’re the first to give you a high-five when you do something well. They are mentors.”
Aldridge had an RBI double to give Episcopal a 4-0 lead in the second. Legaspi delivered her first run-scoring single in the third and scored on a textbook squeeze bunt by Cella. Episcopal plated three runs in the fifth and sixth innings to put the game out of reach. Most of the damage came against O’Hara ace and sophomore Hayden Sissons, who allowed nine runs (six earned) on nine hits in relief of Maddie Jones, who pitched the first inning. Sissons didn’t get much help from her defense, which committed six errors.
Santinelli went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored, while Anna Gallagher added three hits and scored twice for Episcopal.
Bridget MacGillivray doubled and Madison Gibbons, Bree McCormick and Sarah Waddington all singled for the Lions.
Episcopal is defending co-champion in the Inter-Ac, sharing the title with Springsifr Chestnut Hill Academy last spring. It has lost one conference game since the start of the 2021 season. The Churchwomen look forward to keeping the championship to themselves this year.
“We are 100 percent determined to make that happen,” Legaspi said. “We have a lot of pressure coming to us from rising teams. We are going into the second half of the season ready to go and we will be on our toes.”
In another nonleague game:
Garnet Valley 4, Avon Grove 2 >> The Jaguars’ defense stole the show in this one. Catcher Rylee Bailey nabbed a runner trying to steal a base and Elisabeth O’Connor flashed excellent leather in the field as Garnet Valley stayed perfect on the season.
Winning pitcher Anna Sidlowski, Zoey Rogers and Emily Orsini all provided key extra-base hits for the Jags (12-0).