Mount St. Charles pitcher Kylie Finnerty was on top of her game on Tuesday afternoon, tossing a five-hitter that included a half dozen strikeouts and no walks. The Mounties posted a 4-1 victory. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
CUMBERLAND â In an outstanding display of sportsmanship and community concern, especially for those who have suffered from cancer, Cumberland High and Mount St. Charles conducted a âPink Outâ contest at Tucker Field on Tuesday afternoon.
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When Clippersâ skipper Marty Crowley opened his heart and invited MSC veteran mentor Cliff Matthews to partake in such a fundraiser last month, the latter jumped at the chance.
The coaches produced an emotional yet fun-loving ceremony prior to the Division I tilt, and five cancer survivors took part in the event.
âWeâre here to recognize our own cancer survivors,â Crowley stated via microphone to a crowd of approximately 120. âWeâre not playing for us, but weâre playing for them. We will play and pray for them as they continue their fight.â
With that, the quintet threw out a âfirst pitchâ to open the game, and they included Fabio Castro, tossing to his sister and Mountiesâ shortstop Briana Castro; Esther Plouffe and her daughter Essie; Sandy Cocca and CHS righty Juliet Nelson; Kristen Murphy and Clipper Bea Caron; and Tracy Fay hurling to her daughter Taylor Fay.
Cocca had been cancer free since 2011, and Murphy since 2013; thatâs why the latter wore a pink jersey with a blue â13â emblazoned on her back.
âCancer has affected me personally âŠ and some things in the world are more important than softball or Cumberland against Mount St. Charles,â Matthews offered during the pre-game tribute. âThis is a time we put that aside and come together.
âIt means a whole lot more to us that Marty cared enough to ask us to be involved.â
The contest itself couldnât have been more entertaining, though the Mount took advantage of senior righthander Kylie Finnertyâs complete-game five-hitter (without a walk) and six strikeouts to snatch an exciting 4-1 triumph.
Junior catcher Taylor Dill aided her pitcher, going 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI, while freshman Taylor Newcomb went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run and senior Emily DiCecco 2-for-3 with a robbed bag and two runs.
Fellow frosh Emily Durand also scored once for the Mounties, who improved to 4-4 in league action.
For the Clippers, the senior Nelson allowed only six hits (without a freebie) and one earned run while whiffing a quartet.
âKylie was fabulous here,â Matthews noted. âStill, itâs more important to me because some of my family members have gone through the cancer fight or still are. My mother was a cancer survivor, but my mother-in-law passed away. This was a big win for us, no doubt, but there are other more important things we need to address.
âLike I said before, some things are bigger than Mount vs. Cumberland,â he added. âMarty told me we raised (through a hat collection by both teamsâ players) over $200. Thatâs just great! I couldnât be happier.â
Matthews admitted he was rather pleased with the way his club opened the game. With two outs, MSC rallied for a pair against the gritty Nelson, but it started so innocently.
Newcomb reached on an infield hit, then took second on a passed ball. Dill, batting cleanup, then ripped a double to the left-center gap to plate her teammate, then it was senior Kristen Rodriguezâs turn.
With Dillâs courtesy runner, freshman Emily Durand, at second, Rodriguez punched a grounder to short, but Taylor Fay air-mailed the throw to first, allowing Durand to scamper home.
That gave the Mount a quick 2-0 lead, but it was about to add to it.
After an out in the top of the third, DiCecco beat out an infield hit, stole second and scored on Dillâs softly-lined, two-out single to right to make it 3-0, though Nelson forced Rodriguez to fly out to center.
During those two mini-flurries, batter after batter fouled off numerous pitches, and they were quite selective in the box.
âI thought our discipline at the plate was a key for us, but are freshmen continued to hit the ball hard; for me, that was very gratifying,â Matthews said. âUnlike some of our early games, where weâd leave 12-13-14 girls on base, we only left on three.
âI also think our outfield play was excellent,â he continued. âWe only had one error, and that was in the seventh, but we shook it off and kept going.â
Finnerty had coasted through the first two frames, but ran into a bit of trouble in the third. Sydney Provencal opened it with an infield single, hustled to second on a wild pitch and â with two down, and after Finnerty had struck Fay with a fastball â Nelson roped a single to left to plate her.
Unfortunately for Crowley and Co., Fay was caught in a pickle between second and third, and after a lengthy rundown, shortstop Castro applied the tag.
The Clippers had another chance to knife the lead in the fourth after leadoff hitter Maddie Leite drove a hit up the middle and beat the throw to second on sophomore Miranda Veliuâs fielderâs choice.
Yet with only one out, Finnerty fanned Haley Bouley and made Provencal foul out to senior left fielder Sarah Kennedy.
On the play, Kennedy sprinted to her left and made a phenomenal catch just outside the
Matthewsâ bunch tacked on an insurance run in the fifth, again with two down. DiCecco beat out a slow-roller and took second on an infield miscue. She raced to third on another passed ball before scoring on Newcombâs bloop single to right.
It looked like Cumberland would produce a rally in the bottom of the seventh after leadoff batter Bouley reached on an infield error. Provencal then stroked a hard liner to center, though DiCecco made a superb catch, and Finnerty struck out Kirby.
No. 9 hitter Sam Jalbert nevertheless whacked a ground hit up the middle to push Bouley to second, but then came a most decisive play.
Fay ripped a grounder at Castro at short, but â suddenly â it bounced away from her. Thatâs because the ball caromed off Fayâs leg, ending the contest at 4-1.
âItâs the same old story for us,â Crowley mentioned later. âWe didnât outhit our mistakes, and we didnât make the necessary adjustments at the plate. You have to give them credit. They just beat us, fair and square.
âWeâve got to figure out things and do it fast; we have Tolman (today at 4 p.m. at Slater Parkâs Bailey Field),â he added. âThe good news is weâre going to donate the proceeds from this âPink Outâ to the American Cancer Society.
âThe games are won or lost, but â hopefully â the money raised will go somebody or some people who need it most.â