MILFORD — Law center fielder Steph Cameron is well aware of how important defense is to her team’s success. She took center stage Friday afternoon.
With her team up a run in the top of the seventh inning against North Haven and the tying run at the plate, Cameron raced back to the fence and with a leaping catch, stole the second home run of the day by North Haven’s Nicole Dunlop.
Cameron’s catch was the second out of the inning and Law pitcher Jenna Bernard retired Amanda Kenny on a grounder to short with the tying run on as the Eagles hung for a 2-1 victory at Jonathan Law.
“We focus on our defense,” Cameron said after her team qualified for the state tournament and improved to 8-3. “Defense wins games for us. We are really solid on defense.”
The Law defense helped Bernard finish with a five-hitter, while striking out six and walking three. Bernard allowed two hits in the first inning, including Dunlop’s long home run to right-center to lead off the game, before scattering three hits the rest of the way.
“She settled down and did a great job after the first hit,” Law coach Melanie Paolini said.
After scoring on Dunlop’s blast in the first inning, the Indians continued to have their scoring chances but couldn’t capitalize.
The Indians (5-7) had a pair of runners on in the third with one out as Dunlop walked and Mia Martinez singled, but Bernard got Kenny on a pop out and Rachel Giatrelis on a long fly to center that Cameron tracked down.
“Our defense is usually solid,” Paolini said. “We have a tremendous outfield which can get to anything and our infield makes all the routine plays. Our defense always holds us in the game.”
The Indians had a runner on second in the fifth with two outs, but Bernard got Kenny on a grounder to Danielle Gray at third to end the inning.
Giatrelis and Haley Arnaoutis singled to open the sixth, but the Indians couldn’t get the tying run home as Bernard used a pop out and two groundouts to escape the jam.
“They executed nicely,” North Haven coach Sally Maher said. “They got clutch hits. We had opportunities, but we did not get the hits when we needed them.
“We played hard. They got the breaks. We were not able to. It was a well-played game. Both teams played good defense.”
Arnaoutis, a junior, also pitched well for the Indians. She allowed just four hits, struck out one and issued an intentional walk. Arnaoutis was in control in every inning but one, retiring the side in order in four innings and allowing just one runner in the sixth on a single by Bernard.
It was the fourth inning that was the problem for Arnaoutis as the Eagles sent seven batters to the plate, got three of their four hits, and used a pair of key two-out singles to take a 2-1 lead.
After Arnaoutis retired the first nine batters of the game, Cameron led off the fourth with a bunt single. With two outs and Cameron on second, Amanda Leone was intentionally walked.
Gray made the move backfire, singling to center to score Cameron with the tying run. Erin Saley followed with a single to score Leone to give Law the lead it never relinquished.
“Amanda Leone was been intentionally walked before,” Paolini said. “We have seen that before. We wanted to put some hitters behind her. Danielle Gray was already there and we moved Erin Saley up from the ninth spot behind Gray. It ended up being a perfect spot for her.”
Dunlop reached base three times for the Indians with a pair of walks and a home run and Martinez did the same with two singles and a walk.