Four starters were missing from Glenelg's struggling softball team at yesterday's Atholton Tournament, but that didn't stop the Gladiators from showing why they have become perennial contenders.
After collecting 16 hits and riding Emily Kessler's complete-game effort to an 18-7 victory over Good Counsel, No. 10 Glenelg turned to ace pitcher Lyndsay Smyth against Atholton in the championship game.
Smyth came within one out of a no-hitter, settling for a one-hit shutout, while the Gladiators supplied her with more than enough offense in a 12-0 victory.
Last week, Glenelg (3-2) lost two county games, including an 8-1 setback to Atholton.
"I think the kids needed to beat them [Atholton]. Last week's loss was kind of demoralizing," Glenelg coach Chuck Struhar said. "The other teams [in the county] are getting better, and we have to work harder to stay on top. When she [Smyth] pitches, it's a different ballgame. They have a lot of faith in Lyndsay. They feel they can catch the ball behind her."
Although Smyth struck out only three batters, her control was impeccable. She walked one, pitched to two batters over the minimum and forced the Raiders to put the ball into play. Glenelg committed one error.
The final score was somewhat misleading. After watching No. 1 starter Kim Ruprecht scatter three hits, strike out 12 and lead the Raiders to an 8-0 victory over Mount de Sales in the semifinals, Atholton coach Dave Vitagliano decided to give Kendra Gottsman her first varsity start against Glenelg.
Gottsman, 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA for the JV, found the going tough against Glenelg from the outset. The Gladiators, capitalizing on their speed and Gottsman's control problems, built a 5-0 lead without an RBI through the first four innings.
Glenelg scored seven runs in the sixth inning. Against Gottsman, the Gladiators had eight hits, drew eight walks and took advantage of 10 wild pitches.
Because yesterday's games don't count officially and don't affect anyone's playoff qualifying points, Vitagliano did not regret his decision.
"I probably left Kendra in for a few hits too many, but you're not going to win a game by scoring no runs," said Vitagliano, who brought Ruprecht in from center field to get the Gladiators in order in the seventh. "I'm not going to pitch Kim 14 innings in one day. The bottom line is we sent nine legitimate starters to the plate, and she [Smyth] pitched a great game. That's not a tainted one-hitter that she threw."
Ruprecht spoiled Smyth's no-hitter. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Ruprecht lined a fastball into left-center for a double. The Gladiators even turned that into a great play, cutting down Ruprecht trying to stretch her hit into a triple to end the game.
"I tried not to think about it [a no-hitter] because I didn't want to mess up," Smyth said. "I kept the ball in the infield and they fielded everything that came to them. I think we're going to come out on top [in the county]. We just had a rough start."
What made the Gladiators' rebound more impressive is their depth. With starters Lory Wineman (shortstop), Robin Ruppalt (catcher), Joy Younce (outfield) and Jill Younce (third base) away on vacation, Struhar was forced to reshuffle his lineup.
Karen Cadagan, up from the JV, started at catcher. In the championship game, she went 1-for-3, scored a run and handled Smyth smoothly. Jessie Lombardo made her first start at shortstop, reached base twice and had a putout and an assist. Third baseman Diana Rolfs reached base three times, scored two runs and had two assists. Outfielder Susan Geisler scored a run, drove in a run and had two putouts.