AID — As is often the case, Notre Dame pitcher Gwen Sparks provided THE spark for the young yet talented — and highly-touted — Titans.
On Thursday, in the Titans’ Southern Ohio Conference Division I softball makeup matchup at Symmes Valley, Sparks burned red hot —as she brought the heat and no-hit the host Vikings.
As a result, and with Notre Dame scoring a run apiece in the opening two innings and three more times in the seventh, the Titans shut out the Vikings 5-0 —and wrapped up outright their fourth consecutive SOC I championship.
The tall junior Sparks walked two Vikings, but did not allow a hit —and struck out a dozen as Notre Dame remained undefeated in the SOC I at 11-0.
The Blue and Gold stands overall at 16-4.
The loss left the Vikings at 10-2 (14-7 overall) in the league —as Notre Dame completed the season sweep once again.
With the win, Notre Dame —for those into counting —extended its SOC I win streak to 36, which of course dates back to the end of the 2019 campaign, considering there was no 2020 season because of the coronavirus threat.
The Titans took advantage of seven hits and three Viking errors for their five runs off Symmes Valley starting pitcher Savannah Mart, as only two of those five points were earned.
Mart pitched into the seventh and walked four, as Brenna Tibbs took care of the final two Titan outs.
The Titans scored once in the opening inning when Maddie Entler reached on an infield single, Sparks safely reached on an error, both runners advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt, and Kyndall Ford finished the at-bat with an RBI-sacrifice fly.
In the second, Maycee Ford reached on an error, Kaylyn Darden drew a walk and —following a fielder’s choice which moved Ford to third — Ford scored on a wild pitch.
In the seventh, the Titans took the lead to 5-0 and put themselves in firm command.
With one out, Bree Hicks reached on an error — and scored via a Kate Entler double.
Maddie Entler and Sparks singled back-to-back for a second run, and a fielder’s choice set Sparks up to score the fifth and final marker on another wild pitch.
Entler was 2-of-3 while Sparks, Hicks, Kyndall Ford and Alayla Soard singled once.
The Titans’ 12th and final SOC I tilt, originally scheduled for Friday against Clay, was postponed to Friday, May 12.
Notre Dame returns to the road, and returns to non-league action, on Saturday in a triangular affair at Leesburg Fairfield.
The Titans face Fairfield first at 11 a.m., then play again immediately after against New Richmond at 1 p.m.
* * *
Notre Dame 110 000 3 —5 7 0
Symmes Valley 000 000 0 —0 0 3
NDHS: Gwen Sparks 7IP, 0R, 0ER, 0H, 2BB, 12K
SVHS: Savannah Mart 6 1/3 IP, 5R, 2ER, 7H, 4BB, 2K; Brenna Tibbs 2/3IP, 0R, 0ER, 0H, 1BB, 0K
W —Gwen Sparks; L —Savannah Mart
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