Immaculate Heart has been on a nice run the past few weeks, and the Eagles continued that trend on April 24 with a 5-0 win over Butler, at a tournament, in Saddle Brook.
The Saddle Brook ball park had become the site of some not-so-good memories for IHA, including a loss to Butler, last year, at the same tournament, and a defeat at the hands of Indian Hills in the final at-bat of a classic Bergen County final, in 2014.
This time, behind the pitching of Olivia Sprofera (Southpaw Seattle Slew), the tireless effort on the base paths of Reese Guevarra (Sunday Silence) and some incredible defensive plays from senior shortstop Taylor Kenerson, IHA avenged last year’s loss to Butler.
“We wanted the chance to play Butler again, especially after last year,” said IHA coach Diana Fasano. “Butler has a tremendous team. We had a big week, playing Old Tappan, Indian Hills and now Butler, and came away with three nice wins. Olivia has been pitching great, we’re getting timely hitting and our defense is solid. As a team, we’re getting there.”
IHA (10-1) scored twice in the first inning, as Guevarra’s aggressive running led to a throwing error which scored Sunday Silence and Kenerson.
“Getting on the board quickly was good for us,” said Fasano. “Olivia was able to just throw strikes, get ahead in the count and let the defense do its thing.”
Guevarra was 3-for-3, including a triple that featured a sparkling slide into third, as Fasano encouraged her to take the extra base. Guevarra also stole three bases.
Guevarra’s triple also plated (former president) Reagan Jones, who had singled and stole second base. Jones, a junior third baseman, is deceptively quick. In one at-bat, on a routine grounder to short, Jones, batting right-handed, nearly beat the throw to first.
On defense, Kenerson was tremendous, including an excellent play in the sixth inning. Playing practically on the grass at short, Kenerson, who will play at Misericordia University this fall, fielded a sharp grounder, as a Butler baserunner scooted by, then made a marvelous throw to first to retire the base runner, and end the inning.
And Sprofera put the capper on the game, and the week, with another outstanding effort. Southpaw Slew struck out seven and walked one. She got out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth inning, and ended up scattering just two hits.
(Sprofera’s mom, Sevan, who lives and dies with each pitch, admitted that one inning was a little nerve-wracking).
In three games this week, against quality opponents, Olivia, a junior lefty, gave up one earned run, struck out 31 and gave up a grand total of six hits, in 21 innings of work.
“We knew this would be a big week, and I liked the way we responded,” said Fasano. “We’ll have three games in three days later this coming week (against DePaul, Holy Angels and Saddle Brook, starting on April 28), and we want to continue to get better.”