LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Granted, it was but a glimmer of hope. Still, there was life breathed back into the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy softball team when it scored a pair of runs in the fifth inning, turning its deficit to five runs.
But in the sixth, once more Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's Jennifer McNeill was the catalyst, as the Knights rebounded for three runs to put the game out of reach en route to a 10-2 Mission League win on the hill Tuesday at Sacred Heart.
Evan after the Tologs cut the Knights' lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the fifth, it was too little too late in a season of familiar struggles.
"It's just been the pattern," said Sacred Heart Coach Kirk Nishiyama, whose team dropped to 6-10, 1-4 in league. "We dig ourselves in a hole and can't get out of it."
Notre Dame (9-6-1, 2-2-1) capitalized on four Tologs errors, which all came inside the first five innings and allowed the Knights to build a 7-0 lead. Thereafter, the three-run sixth — highlighted by McNeill's two-run home run — put the finishing touches on the lopsided win.
McNeill went three for three with a walk, four runs, two runs batted in and three stolen bases. In all, the Knights had 11 hits.
"Their leadoff hitter is phenomenal," Nishiyama said of McNeill.
The Tologs had eight, but were only able to cash in during the fifth.
Kelly Trueblood had three hits for the Tologs, including a run-scoring single to right field that made it 7-2. The rally in the fifth began with a one-out double by Stasia McGregor, who then scored on a double by Hannah Zika. A walk drawn by Ashley Lund put runners on the corners, but a baserunning miscue quashed what could've been a huge rally. Sumner Hanula blooped what should've been a single to shallow right-center field, but the ball hung up Zika at third and hung up Lund at first to the point she was forced out at second. Trueblood then doubled in Zika, but it was too little in the inning and too late in the game.
"It's just been one of those seasons," Nishiyama said. "It's like that every game, we fall behind early, make errors, dig ourselves in a hole and then we finally relax and start to play and it's too late."