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Notre Dame Gets Closer, but Alemany Still Prevails

Times Staff Writer

OK, so Alemany High beat Notre Dame in softball again. The Indians’ 2-0 San Fernando Valley League win Wednesday at Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Park was nothing new. Notre Dame has never beaten Alemany in the four years it has fielded a varsity team.

But if Notre Dame (12-5, 4-1) lost the battle for first place, the Lady Knights look like they’re at least preparing for a war, if not a competitive rivalry.

Alemany (13-6, 5-0), ranked ninth in the Southern Section 2-A Division, has won a league championship in 16 of the last 17 seasons. The Indians appear to be on their way to another title unless Notre Dame, which finished fifth last season, can stop them when they meet again May 13 in the final game of the regular season.

“The league is pretty balanced and we could both lose somewhere along the line,” Alemany Coach Dudley Rooney said. “But they’re the best team we’ve seen.”

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And could be for the next few years. Notre Dame, a team full of juniors, is anchored by the freshman battery of pitcher Becca Berline and catcher Simona Errico.

But the best pitcher in the league this season is Alemany’s Janeen Duncan, who sandwiched a three-hitter against Bell-Jeff between no-hitters against Chaminade and St. Genevieve in three previous league games.

Duncan (5-0), a senior, gave up just one hit and struck out 10 against Notre Dame. She retired the first 10 batters before Julie Feezor singled up the middle for the Lady Knights’ lone hit.

“All we had to work on over vacation was hitting against the cage and those nice straight fastballs,” Notre Dame Coach Ann McClung said. “We’re better hitters than we showed today.”

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Notre Dame freshman pitcher Becca Berline (4-1) did an admirable job holding Alemany in check, but she was victimized by a first-inning error that led to the game-winning run.

Alemany’s Celine Carrion, who has a fractured finger on her right hand, led off the game with single up the middle and moved to third on successive ground outs by Duncan and Tiffani Riley. Suzanne Schwary walked to put runners at first and third.

That brought up Ilene Tebbs who hit a high-chopper to short. Trina Koenig fielded the ball cleanly, but threw past first baseman Kristin Gilsenan, allowing Carrion to score.

Alemany scored an insurance run in the seventh inning after Duncan reached base on a fielder’s choice and Riley followed with an infield single. Both runners moved up on a past ball to set the stage for Schwary, whose ground out to second scored Duncan.

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“They’ve improved,” Duncan said. “They’re the type of team that can always come back and surprise you.”

There were no surprises Wednesday. Feezor was the only Notre Dame baserunner to reach second and she was stranded there when Duncan induced Dana Marasca and Koenig to ground out.

“I have no doubt we can get them if we start to hit,” McClung said. “My team was a little bit nervous today. That shouldn’t be a problem next time.”


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