PORTSMOUTH — There’s hardly been a game in which the Notre Dame Lady Titans haven’t “brought it”.
It’s the reason they’ve started their 2021 season a perfect 22-0, and with Tuesday’s 10-0 win over Belpre in five innings, will be playing for yet another district championship.
Notre Dame collaborated for 14 hits as a team and freshman pitcher Gwen Sparks held the visiting Lady Golden Eagles hit-less in their final home game in Portsmouth to continue their unbeaten mark yet another game.
Sparks struck out to Belpre hitters and only two reached base — once via walk and another time via error — in what Lady Titans coach J.D. McKenzie called a “really clean game”.
“We played a really clean game and were able to get some bats going that had cooled off,” McKenzie said. “Gwen pitched great and the defense behind her was solid.”
After a scoreless first inning, Sparks got ND’s offense going herself with a solo home run to left field.
Isabel Cassidy’s one out single in the third helped fuel a three-run inning after RBI hits by Kaylor Pickelsimer, Annie Dettwiller, and Kyndall Ford.
One out singles by Ava Hassel and Cassidy in the fourth proceeded Pickelsimer’s three-run bomb in the fourth, putting the Lady Titans ahead 7-0.
Sparks then had a two RBI double with two outs in the fourth to make it 9-0. Following leadoff hits by Hassel and Claire Dettwiller to start the fifth, Cassidy put a ball in play to score Dettwiller in from third and end the game via run-rule.
Tuesday’s win over Belpre in the district semis was the last time ND’s four-player senior class will play at their home field after going a perfect 12-0 at home this season, including playoffs.
“It was a great experience for our girls, especially the seniors to be able to play the district semi on our home field in front of a large crowd of supporters,” McKenzie said. “It is unreal how great a following we get from our community and our girls thrive off of it. I felt our girls came into the game really focused and I cant say enough about the leadership of our four seniors who will now be playing in the district championship in every sport they play for all four years of their careers.”
Now, the No. 1-seed Lady Titans will head east-ward for a meeting with No. 4-seed South Webster on Saturday at the University of Rio Grande.
The pair met at Rio Grande in the 2019 spring season in the Division IV district semis — a game that was won 6-0 by Notre Dame.
The Lady Jeeps were 8-1 winners over Manchester in their own D4 district semi on Tuesday. McKenzie said that although the Lady Jeeps were seeded fourth, this is a game that likely features two regional-caliber teams at an earlier stage than anticipated and should make for a great test for both teams.
“South Webster is a really talented team and will be a big challenge for us on Saturday,” McKenzie said. “The team that wins Saturday has a great opportunity to make a deep run. In my eyes Webster was under-seeded and is a very dangerous team. It should be a great game and it’s a shame this isn’t a regional game. Two great pitchers going at each other and two great hitting line ups with solid defenses, it should be special.”
The runners-up in the SOC II race South Webster and the out-right champs of the SOC I meeting for a district championship and a spot in the regional tournament. As of Wednesday, this contest is scheduled for Saturday, May 22 with an 11:00 p.m. first pitch.
Belpre: 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 0 5
Notre Dame: 0 1 3 5 1 — 10 14 1
W: Sparks (ND), L: Hutchinson (B)
Notre Dame hitting
Claire Dettwiller 1-4, R
Ava Hassel 3-4, R
Isabel Cassidy 3- 4, 2R
Kaylor Pickelsimer 2-2, 2R, HR, 2B, 4RBI
Annie Dettwiller 2-3, RBI
Kyndall Ford 1-3, R, RBI
Gwen Sparks 2-3, R, HR, 3RBI 0
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved