Despite cold, rainy conditions that left the back half of the infield a muddy mess, Hanover Park’s Samantha Snyder and Madison’s Stephanie Deeb turned Monday’s game into a good old fashioned pitchers’ duel.
Thanks to some timely hits and great defensive plays, Snyder and the Hornets defeated the Dodgers 4-2 to remain undefeated in the Liberty Division, now two games ahead of second place Madison.
Hanover Park got on the board first as junior Raquel Mogavero led off the bottom of the first with a double and moved to third on a single from senior Christine Amendola.
After Amendola was caught stealing, senior Nicole Fernicola lined a ball just over the outstretched arm of a leaping Alise Bassolino and into right field for a double and a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Hanover Park added to their lead as senior Danielle Politi won an intense battle with Deeb, knocking the tenth pitch of the at bat into the outfield for a two RBI double to give her team a 3-0 lead.
“That was a great, great at bat,” Hanover Park head coach Kristen Hogan said. “Danielle has really been on fire the past couple of games and she has come through clutch for us.”
Those three runs would hold up thank to Snyder and her defense, who made all the routine plays and three highlight-reel quality ones, two of which came late in the game as Madison clawed their way back.
“It is pretty difficult, you have to get a good grip but I know that my defense is always behind me even if I leave one over the plate or lose my grip on the ball,” Snyder said of pitching in the conditions. “It makes it a lot easier.”
At third, Amendola made two lunging plays snagging line drives right out of mid-air, the last one leading off the sixth inning. Her fellow infielder Mogavero added one to end the fifth inning as she was able to make a diving grab of a liner from Madison’s Alyssa Debiasse.
“Raquel’s play at second, Christine’s two diving line drive catches, Fern [Fernicola] had some great plays even Alex (Consenzo) at first came up really clutch,” Snyder said. “It is really comforting knowing I have them behind me and they are going to make the plays, that I can let them put it in play.”
Every Madison out was recorded via strikeout or a play in the infield, something Hogan was happy about.
“Thank god, because when the ball does go to the outfield on a day like this you never know what is going to happen,” she said. “In warmups, they were taking crazy bounces, so Sam did a really, really great job of keeping the ball down and making them ground out.”
Madison cut the lead to 3-1 in the fifth as sophomore Jill Caruso led off the inning with a homerun to left field but Hanover Park added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning on a sharp double into the right centerfield gap from senior Alyssa Santaniello.
“They didn’t make mistakes,” Snyder said of the Madison defense. “The balls we hit just found empty spots; it was clutch hits at clutch times.”
Now as the division crown seems in their grasp, Snyder said her team still must be careful.
“It is nice knowing we are right there, but we always need to look out on any given day,” she said. “Anyone can go out and win or lose so we need to keep playing well and always be on the lookout.”