By Rob Potter
LIVINGSTON MANOR April 4, 2008 Freshman pitcher Marissa Diescher tossed a no-hitter and recorded 17 strikeouts to help the Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats begin their 2008 softball season with a victory.
Diescher received plenty of offensive support from her teammates as Manor defeated the Liberty Lady Indians, 19-3, in Wednesday afternoon’s non-league season opener for both squads.
Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Megan Eisenberg, who reached base on a walk, scored from third base on a dropped third strike.
Manor (1-0) answered with a run in the bottom of the first. Megan Ellison walked, advanced to second and third on wild pitches and then scored the tying run on an error.
The Lady Wildcats took a 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the second when Melissa Lair scored on a single by Chelsea Riegal.
But Liberty (0-1) evened the score at 2-2 in the top of the third. Paulina Kleinberger led off the inning and drew a walk. After stealing second base and moving to third on a wild pitch, Kleinberger crossed home plate on a passed ball.
Manor took the lead for good in the bottom of the third. With one out, Diescher singled to center field and advanced to second base on an error. She then scored on a single by Kym Potter.
Moments later, Valentina Babich hit a sacrifice fly to bring Potter in to score and give the Lady Wildcats a 4-2 advantage.
After adding a run in the bottom of the fourth, Manor scored seven times in the fifth to take a commanding 12-2 lead. Emily Casey and Valentina Babich had RBI singles in the fifth for Manor.
Liberty recorded its final run of the afternoon in the top of the sixth. Kirsten Sauer struck out, but safely reached base when the third strike was dropped. She eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Manor scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth. Key hits in the frame included an RBI single by Allanna Sherwood and a two-run triple by Christine Babich.
Christine Babich then scored on a single by Marina Zayas to give the Lady Wildcats a 19-3 lead.
The game was then called as the umpires and coaches realized that Manor had scored one more run than necessary under the after five-inning, 15-run mercy rule.
Pacing the Manor offense were Valentina Babich, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Diescher, who was 3-for-4 and scored three runs, and Zayas, who went 2-for-2 with a single and triple.
“It was a good start,” said Liberty Coach Maggie Novello, noting that this was the first time her team was on the field after spending nearly all of their preseason practices inside.
Novello said that her team made some miscues, but attributed those mistakes to the fact that it was the first game this spring.
“Jenna VanKeuren did a great job, she did all I could ask of her,” Novello said of Liberty’s starting pitcher.
VanKeuren pitched 4 and 1/3 innings before being relieved by Paige LaPolt.
After LaPolt faced seven batters, Ceara Williams came in to pitch for the Lady Indians.
“They have a tremendous pitcher and she did a great job today,” said Novello, referring to Diescher.
The Manor squad is guided this spring by Co-Coach Kevin Clifford and Co-Coach Charlie Hicks.
Hicks noted that Wednesday’s game was only the second time the Lady Wildcats had been out on their field.
“Yesterday we were on the field for practice for about 45 minutes,” Hicks said, referring to Tuesday’s after school practice.
“We hit well today,” Hicks added.
He also praised Diescher for her outstanding pitching performance and Ellison for her good work behind the plate.
“This was her first time as the catcher and she did a great job,” Hicks said of Ellison, who is one of the seniors on the Lady Wildcats’ roster.