Can Institute of Notre Dame knock off top-ranked Archbishop Spalding in this afternoon's 3:45 Catholic League softball tournament final at McDonogh?
Yes, say the unranked Indians, but their chances hinge on playing better defense and on keeping the ball in play against dominant pitcher Kim Sheridan.
IND (13-5) lost twice to the regular-season champion Cavaliers (17-1), but made it close April 11, when Spalding committed two official errors -- on top of some shaky play -- in a 5-2 Spalding victory.
The second game, a 6-0 Spalding win, included 10 IND errors.
"Right now, defense is a priority. But even more, we need to put the ball in play and make them earn their outs, rather than just padding up K's in the book," said Indians co-head coach Jerry Kalb, whose team advanced by downing McDonogh, 13-2, and Mount de Sales, 10-0.
"We're trying to go by the old adage that it's difficult to beat one team three times in a season."
However, IND will be facing one of Maryland's premier fast-pitch windmillers in Sheridan, who no-hit Seton Keough, 5-0, yesterday while striking out 15. She missed a perfect game by walking a batter in the sixth inning.