BY DAVE RICCI email@example.com
Niagara Gazette — It’s a good thing Lina Mirabella remembered to bring her catching gear.
Mirabella, a junior, went 2-for-3 and scored twice to help Kenmore West score a 5-0 win over North Tonawanda in NFL softball action that was played at T.K. Murphy Field on Saturday afternoon.
Mirabella, the Blue Devils’ primary right fielder, got the nod behind the plate after starting catcher Bri Christopher was unable to play due to a family emergency.
“I was a little nervous because it was my first time catching,” said Mirabella, who was informed she be catching minutes before the team bus left Ken West.
Mirabella said it took a couple innings to settle in but, once she did, she felt as if it was just her and starter Charlotte Miller playing catch.
Mirabella helped the Blue Devils (5-0 NFL, 5-1 overall) draw first blood when she stroked a two-out double in the third inning. Mirabella advanced to third and eventually beat out a rundown between third and home after Adriana King (run) stroked a hard grounder that stayed in the infield.
“I didn’t want to strike out,” Mirabella said with a smile. “I wanted to get on as much as I could.”
Ashlynn Kaczmarek (double) and Hailey Battaglia (single/stolen base) also stepped up when they were thrown into unexpected starts. Kaczmarek played first base while Battaglia started in right field.
Charlotte Miller (1-for-2, two walks) spun a two-hitter and struck out nine in another complete game win. Miller’s change-up was on and her drop ball was absolutely filthy and presented the most difficulty for the NT batters.
“The seniors stepped up big,” said West pitching coach Joe Catalano. “Hannah Post (RBI), Charlotte and Adriana all stepped big today. They had big plays in the field and big plays at the plate.”
NT coach Samantha Rajski felt her team’s effort against West was much better than it was compared to their loss to Ken-East the day before. While Rajski was happy with her team’s level of competition, she stressed the importance of the girls finding consistency in having a game plan every time they step into the batter’s box. Especially against a pitcher like Miller who has great control.
“I think some of them are starting to get it, where they have to have an idea of what to do when they go up to the plate,” Rajski said. “No matter who they’re facing. It depends on who’s on. What’s the situation with the score is. A lot of them are definitely catching on with that. It’s just a matter of having it happen.”
Rajski’s point was valid. Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, the Jacks (3-4 NFL) had two runners on with no outs, but were unable to push either across the plate. A timely hit could have change the complexion of the game.
For longtime followers of both teams, the game conjured memories of past games from the storied rivalry between these two great programs.
“It was really a 2-0 game, we scraped a couple (extra) runs across,” said Catalano. “I’ve got to give Sam credit. She’s done an awesome job with that NT program. She’s got a young team. They’re disciplined now. They don’t beat themselves. (Jacks starter) Rachel Krawczyk was very impressive.”
Krawczyk (1-for-3) went the distance for the Jacks, tossing four scoreless innings along the way.
Allie Chimera also scored for Ken West.