Mount first baseman Eva McGrath, a sophomore out of Norwood Fontbonne Academy, watches a teammate’s high throw fly past as a Merion Mercy batter arrives at the bag. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

As the temperature reached summer-like levels early last week, Mount St. Joseph Academy also saw a cold streak end for its softball team, which recorded its first victory of 2013 in a home game last Tuesday.

Trailing the visiting Golden Bears of Merion Mercy 2-0 halfway through the contest, the MSJ Magic scored four times in the bottom of the fourth to go ahead for good. Each team plated three runners the rest of the way, leaving the Mount with a 7-5 win that raised its record to 1-3.

At the top of the first inning, a pair of walks and an infield error helped lead to a pair of runs for visiting Merion. The Mount’s starting pitcher, Kathryn Cnudde, felt she wasn’t in top form, and for the start of the second frame freshman Kailey Karabin took over in the circle. She threw the rest of the way and picked up the win, with three strike-outs and one base-on-balls.

The Magic couldn’t get anything going on offense in their first three turns at bat, but at least they held the Golden Bears in check, and after Merion batted at the top of the fourth inning, the score was still 2-0.

The top of the order was due up to bat for Mount St. Joe, and after a pop-up for the initial out, sophomore Jen Leinhauser laid down a bunt that Merion couldn’t field. Senior Amanda Hawthorne hit a grounder down the third base line and Merion tried for the force-out at second, but Lenhauser slid in safely.

Junior Sammy Burns singled to left field to load the bases, then her freshman sister, Jessie, banged a base hit between third and short to drive in the first run of the day for the home team. Karabin drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the contest at 2-2, then the Magic moved ahead on a sacrifice fly to right field by senior Jessie Dolan.

On the third strike to senior Lauren Stabler (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy graduate), the ball got by the catcher and Merion couldn’t make a play at any base. The runner on third came home, and the Mounties took a 4-2 lead out of the inning.

With one out in the top of the fifth and a runner on first through an error, the Magic dropped a pop-up just out of the infield, but were still able to get the force-out at second since the baserunner at first was frozen on the play. A strike-out retired the visiting side, and the Mounties got to work with their bats once more.

Indecision on the part of the Golden Bears’ infield allowed a ground ball hit by MSJ senior Margo Buckley to roll through the right side, and she reached third when Leinhauser doubled over the head of the right fielder.

Hawthorne then whacked a solid single to left center that scored both baserunners.

Hawthorne was forced out at second on a ball that Sammy Burns hit to the third baseman, but then a bunt by Jessie Burns produced a series of errant throws by Merion, and the final MSJ run of the day came home to make it 7-2.

Magic fans sensed that they weren’t home free yet when the visitors scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, and then held the Mount in the bottom half. The seventh frame began with a pop-out, but after that the Golden Bears hit a pair of singles into shallow center, and the runners moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. Yet another stroke to center drove in a Merion run to make it 7-5, but the damage could’ve been worse. At third base, Sammy Burns leapt high in the air to stop a throw from the outfield that might have sent the ball sailing out-of-play.

The batter on that play stole ahead to put Merion runners on second and third, but Karabin came through with a crucial strike-out for the second out of the inning. The final Golden Bears batter hit a high pop just out of the infield, and MSJ junior second baseman Becky Barton backed up to snag the ball, ending the game.