PORTSMOUTH — It was just another manic Monday, but for the Notre Dame High School softball squad, it was yet another Titan-ic shutout.
That’s because, for the fifth time in their five games, the Titans didn’t allow a single opposition run to cross the plate — as visiting Symmes Valley was Monday’s victim by a count of 11-0 in a key-early season Southern Ohio Conference Division I tilt.
The Titans, now 5-0 and with Monday’s bout being their second SOC I duel, have now outscored their opposition by a combined 48-0 —including three games by 10-0 counts.
The only contest in which Notre Dame didn’t score at least 10 runs was against non-league Northwest —when it still scored seven.
Hence, the 11 runs amounted against the previously-undefeated Vikings marks a season-high —as Notre Dame dialed up for a six-run and five-hit second stanza, which also included Symmes Valley committing four of its five errors.
The Titans tallied single runs in the first, third and fourth frames — then got the necessary one and another in the fifth for the 10-run mercy-rule to be enforced.
“I was really proud of the girls,” said NDHS coach J.D. McKenzie. “(Symmes Valley coach) Odie (Estep) does a great job at Symmes Valley, they were undefeated coming in and we knew it was going to be a big game. The girls rose to the occasion.”
In amassing their ninth, 10th and 11th hits against Symmes Valley pitcher Savannah Mart, the Titans got a leadoff single to center from freshman Kyndall Ford —followed by a Madison Brown sacrifice bunt, a Claire Dettwiller single to center, and finally an Ava Hassel walk-off double that scored both Brown and Dettwiller.
But still, this titanic triumph in the SOC I —which sent Symmes Valley to 5-1 and in its league opener — was all about Notre Dame’s defense and freshman pitching.
This time, it was Gwen Sparks shutting down the Vikings to only three hits with no walks or hit batsmen —and seven strikeouts.
The only Viking baserunners were Mart with a leadoff single in the second, a two-out infield hit by Mart in the fourth, and a single to center on the following at-bat by Emily Estep.
McKenzie said that even though Sparks didn’t have as much “pop” on her pitches, the hurler still brought the heat — and threw dynamite.
In the field, shortstop Annie Dettwiller made three individual outs herself.
“Gwen (Sparks) didn’t have as much pop as she normally does, but she had control and was placing the ball well. Symmes is a good hitting team, and our defense was great behind her,” said the coach. “We made some good plays and both in the infield and outfield. We were able to negate anything from those three hits, and she (Sparks) is not walking people or putting people on base. It was another great night from her. If you don’t let the other team score, you have a real good chance of winning every day.”
Offensively, the Titans took advantage in the opening inning of three Mart walks —including the first when Claire Dettwiller led off and advanced to second on a Hassel sacrifice bunt.
But the Vikings threw across the diamond as Dettwiller went to third, and the ball got away and trickled into left-field foul territory — as Dettwiller scored.
It was the first of six unearned ND runs —five of which were scored in the second.
Sparks and Ford first had leadoff singles, Isabel Cassidy singled to center, and Annie Dettwiller doubled to score two runs.
Dettwiller scored the sixth and final run of the inning — on a another single by Sparks.
In the third, Ford walked to lead off and Brown tripled her home —before Annie Detwiller singled to left in the fourth, and scored on another Sparks single to center.
Sparks went a perfect 3-of-3 at the dish with two RBI, as McKenzie considered the Titans’ team performance at the plate “pretty complete”.
“We were putting the ball in play and putting pressure on them. When you put the ball in play, especially on the ground, a few things have to happen, and there’s always the chance that there is going to be a mistake made. We were able to maybe get them rattled a little bit. We got around the bases with some good hits and some good bunts. We did some really good things at the plate by being patient and taking a lot of pitches and she (Mart) was struggling to find the zone,” he said. “It was a pretty complete game, especially at the plate.”
And, it was just another manic Monday, but yet another Titan-ic SOC I shutout.
“Hopefully, we can keep this up,” said McKenzie. “Symmes Valley is always a tough team and well-prepared, so to run-rule them in five (innings) and get a big win like this, it’s a huge building block for us, especially in the conference.”
* * *
Symmes Valley 000 0 0 —0 3 5
Notre Dame 161 12 —11 11 0
SVHS: Savannah Mart 5IP, 11R, 5ER, 11H, 1HB, 4BB, 1K, 29BF
NDHS: Gwen Sparks 5IP, 0R, 0ER, 3H, 0HB, 0BB, 7K, 18BF
W — Gwen Sparks; L — Savannah Mart
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved