At first, Our Lady of Mercy’s Maggie Donnelly struggled to answer the question:
How did it feel to beat the defending CHSAA state softball champs, Sacred Heart, 4-3, Monday?
“It’s hard to put into words,” said the senior third baseman. “We had a rough season last year. We wanted to win this game so badly — and winning such an important game against a good team makes us all feel so happy. All 12 players on the team are so excited. It’s crazy.”
It’s also crazy how this game ended.
The Mustangs led, 4-3, but watched as Sacred Heart (1-1) loaded the bases with no outs against freshman pitcher Rosie Foster.
“I was staying confident and being strong,” Foster said. “I just focused on going against the batter and not thinking about the people on base.”
Easier said than done. However, Foster induced a pop out and a strikeout for the first and second outs. The next batter hit a one-hop smash to Foster’s left. She scooped it cleanly and threw to first to end the game.
“It was right up the middle,” Mustangs coach, Sister Meghan McArdle said. “The fact that Rosie could keep that calm as a freshman, and be that cool-headed, is amazing.”
Foster allowed three runs and six hits with seven strikeouts and five walks for Mercy (2-0 CHSAA) which tied its win total from last season.
After Sacred Heart (1-1) took a 1-0 lead, the Mustangs sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom half of the inning. A double by Donnelly scored Meagan Atkinson to tie the score for Mercy. Four batters later and with the bases loaded, Foster helped her own cause with a double to deep left-centerfield that cleared the bases and made it 4-1.
Sacred Heart added two runs in the fourth, and loaded the bases in the seventh before Foster took over, especially on the game-ending, one-hopper.
“It was bases loaded and no outs, and we could have crumbled,” said McArdle, a former Mercy player, now in her 13th season as head coach. “But they showed how together they are, and how much they support each other.”
Foster added: “As soon as it was hit I knew I had it. I wanted that game so bad. I was confident even though [Sacred Heart] were the champs last year.”
Meanwhile, the Mustangs won just two games a year ago.
“They’ve shown great strides as well as a maturity and a cohesiveness that, regardless of wins and losses, has really helped them to be their best,” McArdle said. “This is the joy of sports, on any given day, anything can happen. That’s why we play.”
However, Donnelly believed this wasn’t just another regular CHSAA game.
“We were all trying to treat it as a normal game, but we knew it was a big game, and it would be a hard game,” said Donnelly, who will attend Scranton (Pa.) in the fall. “We played so well and fought until the very end. I can’t believe we won.”