Ursuline pitcher shuts out Liberty as Irish capture Division III sectional title
By joe catullo Jr.
With no runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, Ursuline pitcher Makayla Shore tried to help her own cause with the bases loaded and one out.
She hit a weak ground ball to Liberty third baseman Vicki Serrano, who threw it to catcher Kimmy Cordy for the second out. Then Cordy went for the double play, but her throw to first base hit Shore’s back and gave Macey Gunther an easy pass to home plate. After the ball hit Shore, she had one thing in mind.
“I knew that we got on top and had to hold them from there,” she said.
Shore did what she knew she had to do, and that one run was the difference in a 1-0 victory.
“You got to manufacture a run however you get it,” Ursuline coach Michael Kernan said. “We got a break, and we made it hold up. Tournament time, a win’s a win.”
Liberty coach Jordan Ingalls was not upset that Cordy went for the double play.
“I never hold it over their heads for being aggressive,” Ingalls said. “If she would have made that play, she would’ve been the hero, and she easily could have been. I wasn’t really too worried about it. You have to score to move on.”
The Leopards (5-15) had a good opportunity to tie the game in the seventh inning. Down to their final out, the Leopards collected three consecutive hits to load the bases.
Leah Leshnack battled against Shore, but popped out to first baseman Maddie Christoff to end the game.
“We were fortunate to get out of that with no damage,” Kernan said.
Shore went the distance, and she allowed six hits and three walks while striking out 10. Kernan said facing Division I and II teams all season long helped her mature.
“She got battle-tested all year, and she grew up,” he said. “She’s really matured for tournament time, and we’re excited about that. Didn’t start that way at the beginning of the year, but we threw her out to the wolves, and she had no choice but to grow up.”
Megan Gatta started for Liberty and was just as affective. She pitched four and two-third innings, allowed one unearned run, three hits, two walks and struck out three. No player from Ursuline (18-8) and Liberty collected more than one hit.
The Fighting Irish advance to a Division III district semifinal on Thursday at South Range. Ursuline will face the winner of today’s Girard-Newton Falls sectional final.
Liberty will lose its coach. Ingalls, a right fielder for Youngstown State from 2009-2012, will be a health and physical education teacher at Lancaster High School.
“Just being in the school and just being able to see them, for me it’s different being a coach,” Ingalls said. “I learned probably just as much if not more from them. That’s something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. They’re my first team as a head coach, and I’ll certainly never forget them.”