Immaculate Heart Academy had come off a tougher-than-expected win over Passaic Tech last Friday, and with an unanticipated off day the following morning because of a rain out in the first round of IHA’s annual tournament, the team had what seemed to be a very productive practice.
“We got some good work in,” said senior first baseman Emilie Cieslak. “For me, it was a chance to work on my swing. We did this drill, where there were bags behind us, and we couldn’t hit the bag, with our bat, when swinging. It felt a little strange, but it shortened my swing a little, and I’ve felt better at the plate, since.”
The Duke University-bound Cieslak was on her game, big time, hitting a pair of home runs to lead IHA past Wayne Valley, 13-0, on April 12. It was the fourth straight win for IHA (5-1), and the third straight game the Eagles scored in double figures.
IHA coach Diana Fasano, who as a head coach is quickly gaining a reputation, like most good mentors, of throwing compliments around like the proverbial manhole cover, was somewhat pleased.
“We got our first shutout of the season,” said Fasano. “(Junior lefty) Olivia (Sprofera) gave up just the one walk, but we never want to be too satisfied. I do like the way our kids are starting to swing the bats. That’s been good to see. But we can be better, and they know that, too.”
Sprofera (Southpaw Slew) spun a five-inning no hitter, striking out five and walking one.
“In today’s game, I primarily was focused on hitting my spots,” said Sprofera. “I was confident that my defense would make the plays, as it was clear today. I was trying to mix up locations and speeds to get comfortable with not relying on one certain pitch. I wanted to work out of the zone in hopes they would chase.”
Cieslak’s first homer was a majestic shot that cleared the left centerfield fence. The second was a line drive that sizzled over the right centerfield wall. She finished the game with four RBI.
Reese Guevarra (Sunday Silence) and Sonia Sharma had three hits each for IHA while Sarah Siclari had two hits. Guevarra also scored three times.
Wayne Valley, which gained the finals of the Passaic County Tournament last year, played well defensively, but the Indians’ head coach, Michelle Wlosek, knew her team was in the middle of a buzzsaw.
“They can hit,” said Wlosek of IHA. “We’re young, and building a pitching staff. Our kids knew this was going to be a tough assignment. But one thing about this game, there’s another one coming up, and we’ve got some big conference games later this week.”
IHA has a couple of days off, before returning to action on Saturday at the Black and Gold Tournament, in Cedar Grove. Some of the team will enjoy the prom on Friday night, as well.