Caldrone leads Ursuline over Alliance
By Dan Hiner
Ursuline catcher Gia Caldrone hit three doubles in the Irish’s 14-4 win over Alliance in a Division II sectional final at YSU Softball Complex on Friday.
Caldrone went 3 for 4 with four RBIs and three runs scored in her first tournament game.
But the ball wanted a little payback.
The junior took foul tips on back-to-back pitches, and on her final hit, took a wild throw to the face from Alliance shortstop Kylee Young while sliding into second.
Recently, taking a couple foul tips to the face mask is the norm for the Irish backstop. After Friday’s win, Caldrone has taken four foul balls to the catcher’s mask this week.
“Four times ... it’s been a rough week,” Caldrone said. “And it’s day after day, and I think I’m gonna be OK and then I get hit in the head again.”
Ursuline (21-4) led 9-0 after two innings, including a seven-run second inning.
Julia Nutter started the Irish’s breakout inning with a leadoff home run. Caldrone added a two-run double down the left-field line later in the inning.
“I was relaxed, just had to keep my cool because it was my first playoff game and I didn’t want to be too nervous,” Caldrone said. “I just had to relax and swing the bat like I know how.”
Alliance (13-10) got back into the game after a three-run double by Mara Cvelbar in the top of the third to cut the lead to 9-3.
The Irish invoked the run rule after Nutter hit a sacrifice fly in a four-run fifth inning.
Nutter finished a triple shy of the cycle. She added three RBIs and a run scored.
Jordyn Kenneally struck out seven in a complete game for the Irish. She allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits and two walks.
“It starts a little slow,” Ursuline head coach Mike Kernan said. “We don’t make a play on defense — maybe we should have — we gave up a walk on a full count. Next thing you know, it looks like our backs against the wall.
But [Kenneally] really got in a good rhythm the last two innings and recovered. I thought she pitched real well to finish off the game.”
Alliance pitcher Phoebe Jackson allowed nine runs, seven earned, in two innings. Mackenzie Kohl relieved Jackson in the third.
Kohl allowed five runs on five hits and three walks in three innings pitched.
“At this point, teams are gonna battle back,” Kernan said. “You just gotta stop the push and come back and keep getting some more [runs]. Ya know, that’s key right now. We got to do a good job with that.”
Ursuline will play Cardinal Mooney in a district semifinal on Thursday.
It marks the Irish’s return to the district semifinals. Ursuline missed out on the district semifinals last year, snapping a streak of 11 consecutive seasons.
The Cardinals beat Ursuline 8-6 on April 11 at Fields of Dreams, and Kernan knows his players will be ready for a rematch.
“I would say it’s gonna add a lot of gas to the fire,” Kernan said. “I would expect a high intensity for the game, let alone a tournament game.
“Throw in the Mooney-Ursuline rivalry and a little explosion’s ready to happen.”