by Tom Utescher

GA catcher Breezy Cullen (right) is still waiting for the throw home as Springside’s Alexis Giovinazzo slides to the plate. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Scoring a run in the top of the seventh to edge ahead 6-5 in last Friday’s Girls Inter-Ac League softball contest, the Springside Lions got themselves into a defensive predicament in the bottom half of the inning. The host Patriots of Germantown Academy got runners to second and third base with no outs, but a tag at home plate on the next play paved the way for Springside to dispel the threat entirely and make off with a one-run victory.

The Lions, who opened the league season against Episcopal Academy, improved to 2-0 with the win over GA, which was making its league debut in Friday’s encounter. Not counting a number of practice games played over spring break, Springside has gone 4-1 overall, and GA 0-3.

After tying for the Inter-Ac title last season, Springside suffered only one significant graduation loss, but it was pitcher Natalie Klotz, a five-year varsity player. Sophomore Michelle Cybularz has taken over the mound for the Lions, and last Friday she notched four strike-outs while yielding seven hits and four walks. There were also four bases on balls for GA senior Stephanie Wolfson, who struck out six and gave up five hits.

Springside, which started the week by giving Episcopal a 16-1 drubbing, found itself behind 1-0 three innings into Thursday’s game. Leading off for the Patriots in the bottom of the second, junior Amanda Logan doubled to right center, then reached third when sophomore Mariel Becker dropped a single into shallow left field. Logan scored when Springside was unable to make the tag at the plate off of an infield grounder hit by another 11th-grader, Tyler Wellington.

The Lions got on the board at the top of the fourth, as freshman Jenna Moriarty got to first through an error and scored on a double deep to left field by junior Alexis Giovinazzo. After going to third on a single by her classmate, catcher Aly Markey, Giovinazzo scored when courtesy runner Shelby Jackson drew a throw to second on a successful steal. Lions junior Resnya Hughes got on with a walk, and later she and Jackson both scored as the threat of another steal produced several ill-advised throws by the GA defense.

The visitors now led 4-1, but Germantown got all four runs back in the bottom of the inning. Benefitting from two walks, the Pats then scored their first of the frame on a single by Wellington. The next batter struck out, but the baserunners moved up to second and third at the same time, scoring later on thanks to a sacrifice fly (by junior Elisa Novak) and a Springside error. Sophomore Breezy Cullen then sent an RBI single over short to give GA a 5-4 lead at the end of four frames.

With one out in the top of the fifth, Cybularz singled and then went to second with a walk to Moriarty. Giovinazzo whacked a double to right center and wound up on third as both the runners ahead of her tried to score. The first made it home, but the second was tagged out following a collision with Cullen, the GA catcher, a few feet in front of the plate.

Still, Springside had pulled even at 5-5, and GA would not score again in the game.

With one out in the top of the seventh, Lions sophomore Kelsea Brewer waited out a walk, and then had to linger at first as Novak, the GA shortstop, stretched up to glove a sort of soft line drive for the second out. Going to second on a passed ball, Brewer then made third when Moriarty’s pop towards first base was dropped by GA. Giovinazzo, who started the day with a pop-up, now delivered her third hit in a row, driving the ball over second base to bring home Brewer with the winning run.

For a few minutes in the bottom of the inning, it didn’t look like the slim 6-5 lead would endure. On a lead-off grounder to the left side, a throw that pulled Springside’s Hughes off the bag at first assured a safe arrival for the GA batter, Wolfson. After Elle McGraw got on with a single down the line in left, a wild pitch allowed the Patriot runners to reach second and third, still with no outs.

Germantown’s Becker hit the ball to Springside shortstop Giovinazzo, who threw home to Markey to get an out at the plate. During the same sequence, a baserunning interference call against the Patriots produced a second out. A similar violation had accounted for the Lions’ third out in the top of the inning. On the final play of the afternoon, Springside’s Cybularz backpedaled to pocket a pop-up, and the Lions went home with a hard-won victory.