Ultra-fast Kim Sheridan of Archbishop Spalding was a big enough challenge for Institute of Notre Dame. Add a leaky IND defense, and it was just too much for the visiting Indians to overcome in a 5-2 loss yesterday at Upton Park.
No. 2 Spalding (8-1, 4-0) opened a two-game lead over seventh-ranked IND (5-3, 3-2) in the Catholic League standings by scoring five unearned runs in support of Sheridan's two-hitter.
Sheridan, who needed only 76 pitches, won for the sixth time in seven starts. She struck out 10, walked one and got all 21 outs on either strikes or infield plays. IND pitcher Christa Engleman (2-3) was victimized by six errors and lost a five-hitter.
Spalding gave up two unearned runs, committing both of its errors in the sixth inning.
"It's called winning ugly, although IND made good contact and gave our fielders the most action they've seen," said Spalding coach Jim Nemeth. "And I think every team does have that one bad inning. I just hope we got it out of our system.
"The mark of a good team is that it doesn't compound it [the bad inning] with another mistake. We didn't, and that's partly because of the experience these girls have in big games."
Except for the sixth, Sheridan allowed only one runner as far as second base. IND's Kate Colgan walked to open the seventh inning and was sacrificed into scoring position, but Sheridan fanned Mary Burns and Angie Nough on seven pitches to end the game.
As for the sixth, "you'll always have that one inning, but good teams can come back from it," said Sheridan, a junior right-hander who lowered her ERA to 0.19 for the season. She has now allowed one earned run (in a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Northeast) in 47 innings, striking out 86 and walking three.
Spalding jumped ahead in the second, 1-0, when Nough dropped Nicole Dunleavy's fly ball in the right-field sun. Dunleavy came around on a wild pitch and a passed ball charged to catcher Diana Hargis.
An error, Carrie Lycett's single and a fielder's choice grounder by Kerri Endler made it 2-0 in the fourth. Then, IND's roof fell in after Rachel Synowski opened the Cavs sixth with a bunt single.
Hargis misplayed Jackie Cordery's bunt up the first base line. One out later, Amy Councilman's line single eluded left-fielder Bree Coleman for a two-base error that scored both runners. Councilman came home when Colgan booted Sheridan's grounder to second base.
"We had some great defensive innings, but then it was like a different team. We kind of fell apart. It seemed like everyone was taking turns making an error," said IND co-head coach Steve Kalb.
IND, which was playing its first game in six days, got two runs back when Cavaliers shortstop Dunleavy threw wildly past first on Chris Gallup's two-out grounder in the sixth. But Sheridan bore down from there.