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Miller outduels Viscardo as Shanahan edges Villa in extra inning gem

Shanahan’s Emily Sano pulls into second safely behind Villa’s Fran Delviscio

MALVERN—With two of the county’s top pitchers in the circle, Tuesday’s non-league softball match-up of Bishop Shanahan at Villa Maria figured to be a low-scoring affair. The Eagles’ Devon Miller and the Hurricanes’ Alyssa Viscardo matched each other strikeout for strikeout, scoreless inning for scoreless inning just about all afternoon.

But in the top of the ninth, Hannah Keiper took a Viscardo offering to the right field fence, scoring Emily Sano, and Shanahan (7-2) handed Villa Maria (8-1) its first loss of the season, 2-1 in nine innings.

“I just came to the plate looking for the best pitch for me to hit,” said Keiper. “I was looking for a pitch I could drive, and I got one. Honestly, I was just looking for a single, whatever it took to get Emily (Sano) home.”

Hannah Keiper

The dueling aces were on fire in the early going. Through the first four scoreless innings there were just two hits—by Shanahan’s Alexis Peterson and from Miller (2 for 5, double) herself. Miller had struck out nine over that span, while Viscardo was right behind with eight.

Sano got the Eagles going in the fifth, working a lead-off walk. Alexa Peterson followed, making it first and second with nobody out when she beat out an infield single.

Then, with one out, Keiper came to the plate. Always a reliable source of power for the Eagles, Keiper showed she can do the little things, too, and executed a perfect squeeze bunt to plate Sano and make it 1-0 Shanahan.

Shanahan’s Emily Sano comes into score the game’s first run

“I knew how quick Emily was, and I read the defense and saw they were playing me kind of deep,” said Keiper. “I figured it would be a great time to drop one down and get us a run on the board. With Devon pitching, sometimes one run is all you need to get the win.”

While seeing a power hitter drop down a bunt might come as a surprise to some, Shanahan Coach Ron Savastio knew he could count on Keiper to come through for him in that spot.

“Hannah is probably the best bunter on the team, believe it or not,” said Savastio. “I see her in situations like that sometimes and I think it’s a shame not to use that power, but she only cares about doing what is best for the team.”

Villa tied the game in the bottom half of the sixth. Riley Miller led off, and was hit by a pitch, moving up to second on a sac bunt from Viscardo. After the Shanahan Miller struck out the next hitter, Ana Ciarrocchi put the Hurricanes on the board, delivering a double to the gap in left center to score Miller from second.

Ana Ciarrocchi

“These kinds of games are fun, and so important to get into,” said Villa Coach Nikki Hartshorn. “This team is mentally strong, and starting to know how tough they are. They can give up some unearned runs after making some errors, and just put it behind them. They know they can respond to adversity and score on one of the best pitchers around.”

Devon Miller

Miller went all nine to earn the victory. She allowed one run on five hits, while striking out 13 and not walking a single hitter.

“This was a tough battle,” said Miller. “I’ve always kind of had a grudge against this team, since they beat us in district finals when I was a freshman. I noticed pretty early they were standing back in the box, so I just took advantage of that and the wind and started working my curve a lot. It is great to come away with wins like this, because just about every game in our league is tough.”

Viscardo was just as impressive in taking the hard-luck loss. Viscardo also went the distance, allowing two runs on seven hits. She struck out 15, and walked four.

Alyssa Viscardo

“Alyssa was great,” said Hartshorn. “She has such great intensity, and is an amazing competitor. Softball is her life, and she loves the game and this team. They are really gelling as a team.”

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