Sloppy start gets Tologs in trouble

SHERMAN OAKS ā€” Looking to gain a step or two on its Mission League competition, the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy softball team came out of the gate Tuesday against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and promptly shot itself in the foot.

The first four runs charged to Tologs starting pitcher MacKenzie Lyng were unearned, as errors played a big part in putting Sacred Heart in a five-run hole after the first two innings that led to a 7-2 loss at Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Park.

"We talked about playing for seven [innings] and we played five today," said Tologs Coach Kirk Nishiyama, whose team dropped to 7-9 and 2-3 in league for fourth place going into its spring break. "In the Mission League, you can't do that.

"We made it tough on ourselves today. In the Mission League, when you make those mistakes, teams are going to capitalize."

Sacred Heart showed some positive signs offensively in the top of the fourth inning, which saw it cut the lead to a more manageable three runs. Alanna Pires singled to second base to lead off the frame and was driven home by Lauren Torres' triple to deep right field.

With one out, Molly Zwart beat out an infield single to drive in Torres and Kelly Trueblood singled to left to keep the rally going, but Notre Dame pitcher Marisa Keckeisen, who limited the Tologs to two runs on seven hits over seven innings, fanned the next two Tologs batters to get out of the jam.

Sacred Heart left six runners on base in all, but was most hindered by its three errors over the first two innings.

A high popup to left by Knights leadoff hitter Jennifer McNeill was dropped for a two-base error in the bottom of the first and McNeill, after stealing third base, scored on groundout to make it 1-0.

With two outs, Elana Helfand singled in two more runs for a 3-0 advantage.

The second inning began with another fielding gaffe on a sharp grounder down the first-base line hit by Emma Rees, who scored two batters later on McNeill's double to center field. Caroline Shores singled to left to plate McNeill.

Lyng got the game under control, retiring the side in order in the third and fourth innings with flawless defense behind her.

But with 62 pitches thrown entering the fifth, Lyng left without retiring a batter after loading the bases on two walks and a single to start the frame.

Reliever Alex Eaton induced a grounder to first base and the throw home appeared to result in a force out at the plate, but the runner was ruled safe after the umpire determined catcher Stasia McGregor didn't have a foot on the plate. Notre Dame would add one more insurance run in the fifth to put the game out of reach.

"This was a pretty important game, kind of a swing game," said Nishiyama whose team resumes league play on April 26 against first-place Chaminade. "Now we pretty much have to go 4-1 [to make the playoffs]."

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