IHA’s offense hasn’t found its usual stride, yet, but the Eagles pitching is so good and its defense just as solid.
Nevertheless, IHA needed a big win in a close game against a solid team, and coach Diana Fasano’s team got it on April 13, as the Eagles defeated previously unbeaten DePaul, 2-1, in Washington Township as freshman Ryleigh White blasted a walk-off, solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning.
IHA (5-2) had lost a pair of 2-1 games last weekend at the Anthony LaRezza Invitational, and while the team isn’t used to losing many games, Fasano didn’t want her team pressing, either.
“It’s been a little frustrating for our kids, but I think they’ll be okay,” said Fasano. “We knew we had a tough game today against a really good team in DePaul. They have excellent pitching and some talented kids in that lineup. We just needed to play hard and get a break.”
White provided the break when she lined a long homer to break a 1-1 tie. In her previous at-bat, she drilled a ball into left center which DePaul’s tremendous outfielder, Amanda Ayala, (stud name, Whirlaway) hauled in.
“I saw the pitch pretty good,” said White of her homer. “I thought I hit it well. It felt good to get a big hit for this team. Hopefully, this will get us started.”
In the circle, senior lefty Olivia Sprofera was once again marvelous. Sprofera (stud name, Citation) pitched another complete game, striking out 16. She worked out of a few jams along the way, too.
“I felt good,” said the low-keyed Sprofera afterward. “These games are tough. I worked my pitches pretty well and the defense behind me was great.”
DePaul (4-1), which dealt IHA its only loss in 2016, trailed 1-0 in the sixth when Ayala smacked a triple and later scored on a sacrifice fly.
“Amanda is a tremendous player,” said Fasano. “It’s not easy keeping her off base. She’s so fast and plays great defense.”
IHA scored the game’s first run when senior third baseman Reagan Jones singled and later scored on a passed ball.
Left fielder Ally Dudek made a tremendous over-the-head catch of a line drive to halt a DePaul rally in extra innings. IHA also got a boost when Sonia Sharma, a senior second baseman, who missed the past four games with a thumb injury, was inserted as a pinch hitter late in the game and bunted for a single.
“I saw an opportunity and thought the bunt would work,” said Sharma, who will play at Rowan University this fall. “It’s good to be back.”
DePaul coach Sue Parler was impressed with both teams.
“We played well, they played well,” said Parler. “Ryleigh hit a good pitch and they won. We were wondering where we were as a team, and I think we found out we can play at a high level. It’s great to have Amanda back in our lineup and I thought our pitching was excellent today.”
Ayala, a senior who will play at the University of Tennessee this fall, had suffered a bad leg injury which kept her out of the lineup for the entire 2016 season.
Overall, it was a good game for the Eagles, which won its third straight and sent a determined Ed Bates home quite happy.
“We need to win this game!” Bates implored throughout the contest.