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Softball: Lion cubs bare fangs in rout


Everything came together for New Hope-Solebury in Monday’s 12-1 mercy ruling of Lower Moreland.

A five-run second inning and six-run third ensured that the game would end early.

Starter RiRi D’Agostino and reliever Samantha Elser dominated in the ring.

And the Lion defense converted its first 11 chances into outs.

“The kids played the best defense that they had all year,” noted New Hope skipper Chris Marchok. “Chicky (Wilson) played a nice game at third. Sam and RiRi took care of business on the mound. We have to execute defense and small ball. The kids did it today.”

Becca Wilson drove in sister Chicky to give New Hope a 1-0 lead.

D’Agostino ran into some trouble in the second; the first three Lower Moreland Lions reached on two singles and a catcher’s interference. But D’Agostino induced a pop-up and fanned two more to escape the jam and preserve the shutout.

“I was focusing on throwing strikes and not on anything else on the field,” said D’Agostino, who didn’t walk one of the 12 Lower Moreland Lions she faced. “I focused on the pitches I was throwing. The defense was great.”

“That’s a young freshman driving strikes,” Marchok said. “That’s what RiRi brings to us.”

The first seven New Hope Lions reached to start the second. Emily Primavera’s single drove in two. Catcher Elsie Jones drove in two more with a knock.

“It was bases loaded so I was trying to score some runs,” Primavera said. “It felt nice to get that hit.”

The offense was just heating up. Becca Wilson’s third inning single gave her an RBI in each of the first three frames. With a drawn-in infield Grace Lovrinic ripped a two-run single up the middle. Sabrina Vlahovic and Erin Firth each had an RBI for New Hope.

“I feel like we all had confidence, which really helped,” Lovrinic said. “Everyone is in a good mood now and it’s given us more confidence for our next game.”

The Lions led 11-0 when the final out of the third was made. New Hope’s astute baserunning kept pressure on Lower Morelan. “We have a lot of fast girls: Grace, Sophie (Farina) and Chicky are our three fastest,” Primavera noted. “They all also slap really well, which helped us today.”

The win was big for several reasons. Class 4A Lower Moreland carried an 8-5 record into play; the “W” gave the young Class 3A New Hope Lions a huge morale boost.

How young? Marchok has just four players with varsity experience.

“You are looking at a bunch of kids,” Marchok emphasized. “We have four juniors and everyone else is a first timer. Our three slappers have never done this before in their lives. They’re getting the ball down, being successful and creating havoc. It’s how we have to do it because we’re so young.”

Monday’s win was the first of five straight games for New Hope. The team was 5-10 (5-8 Bicentennial) entering press time. The Lions conclude the grueling stretch with a Friday night tilt at rival South Hunterdon. Marchok’s Lions earned the luxury of not only shortening Monday’s game, but enabling the skipper to empty the bench after the third inning.

“We’re blessed to have two kids who can throw strikes. I’m thrilled and excited,” Marchok praised. “I love what these kids are doing and I love their attitude.”

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