MILFORD — Sacred Heart Academy coach Ray Ramelli and his Foran counterpart Jeff Bevino know the importance of pitching in high school softball. Both saw firsthand how much it really means when two good teams match up Thursday afternoon at Foran High.
Behind the three-hit pitching of Molly Flowers, the offense of Becca Marks and Maighread Scafariello and an eight-run first inning, Sacred Heart coasted to a 10-1 victory over Foran in a Southern Connecticut Conference matchup.
“Molly was great today,” Ramelli said. “She had her change and her curve working and she had some pop on her fastball. She just gets smarter as the game goes on as far as where she wants the pitch.”
While Flowers was on her game, the story of the contest was a first inning that saw the Pacers send 13 batters to the pate, scoring eight times.
Foran pitcher Jessica Harkness faced just nine batters and didn’t record an out before Bevino lifted her in favor of Ashley Mendillo.
Harkness’ line was not her best. She allowed three hits, walked four and the defense made two of its three errors in the eight-run first inning while she was pitching.
“She has been struggling with a little groin issue,” Bevino said of Harkness. “She is trying to pitch through it. She can’t get the ball down. She threw a lot of pitches on Monday and yesterday. She will not use it as an excuse.”
Harkness walked Emily Velez to start the game and Scafariello reached on an error. Marks, who reached base three times, walked to load the bases before Amanda Beecher singled to right to score Velez.
Courtney Nowicki followed with a single to left to score Scafariello and Flowers walked to force in Marks. Brittany Lachance then reached on an error by third baseman Jenna Zacarelli to bring in Beecher, before Carmen Clarkin singled to right to score Nowicki.
When Harkness walked the ninth-place hitter Annabelle Carbo to force in another run, Bevino had seen enough and called for Mendillo. That wasn’t enough to stop another run from scoring on an errant return throw to Mendillo.
“We have done that all year long,” Bevino said of the errors. “We have to get better with that. We almost gave the games away against Mercy and North Haven. We are not playing well. We are not hitting, fielding or pitching well and that is a bad combination.”
With an eight-run cushion before she stepped foot in the pitching circle, Flowers just wanted to keep it simple.
While she allowed a double to Dani Kemp to start the first inning for the Lions (4-3) and a run-scoring single by Fallon Bevino, the Sacred Heart senior was in complete control throughout the contest, allowing just one more hit and two more runners the rest of the game.
“This is really big for us,” Flowers said after her team improved to 3-4. “We came into this game knowing they had some good hitters in Fallon (Bevino) and their leadoff hitter (Kemp). I wanted to be strategic with my pitches. I wanted to keep them guessing.
“It (first inning) made my job easier. That is big against them.”
Another error by Foran, one of five on the day, in the third inning led to another run for the Pacers. Carbo reached on a one-out infield single, Scafariello singled and both advanced to scoring position on an error on the play. Marks then drove in Carbo with a single to left.
“This is huge for us, especially with the way we came out and swung the bats,” Marks said. “We came out and got some hits and the walks played a big part as well. It was big for us to get out to the lead like that.”
Flowers, who returned from a brief absence with a wrist injury, saw her last bit of trouble came in the third inning when Mendillo walked with two outs and Bevino singled. Bevino was the last Lion to reach base as Flowers retired the final 13 batters of the game.
“Ashley Mendillo pitched outstanding,” Jeff Bevino said. “She did a tremendous job picking us up. We needed a boost somewhere. You can’t be down eight runs to Molly Flowers or anybody for that matter.”
Sacred Heart capped the scoring in the sixth inning when Scafariello hit a long home run to center. Scafarello, Marks and Carbo each had two hits for the Pacers, with Marks driving in a pair of runs.
Bevino led the Lions with two hits and an RBI. Mendillo went seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out six.