MENTOR—The wait is over for the Mentor softball team.
After the lost season of 2020, the Cardinals finally opened their new stadium with a dramatic 5-4 win over visiting Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin on Saturday.
Mentor held a 5-2 advantage entering the seventh inning but the Lions hit a two-run home run with two outs to add even more excitement to the afternoon.
“It’s awesome,” said first-year Mentor head coach Jo Bondra about her first career win to go along with the stadium opening. “To do it here on a nice day with all these fans here and to see the girls excited after the game, it’s awesome. It was a good day for us.”
The stadium was set to open in 2020 but that season was canceled due to the Coronavirus.
Prior to the game, an official dedication ceremony was held and Mentor’s three seniors each threw out a ceremonial first pitch in honor of the Class of 2020 seniors who never had the chance to play on the new turf field.
That pregame ceremony likely contributed to Mentor’s slow start.
The Cardinals dropped two fly balls and committed a throwing error in the top of the first inning as the Lions put runners on second and third with two outs.
Junior pitcher Leah Temple, who sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around the two fielding errors, recorded a third strikeout to end the NDCL threat.
“Those girls know in the field to just get the next one,” Bondra said of the early mistakes. “That was our message, even on that home run in the seventh inning, we just told Leah to get the next one. They didn’t take the lead or tie the game; we just had to move forward.”
Mentor responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Bella Carcioppolo bunted her way to first base to open the inning and then Adrianna Sluga pushed her to third with a bunt single of her own. Temple singled home both runners to give Mentor an early 2-0 lead.
Carcioppolo drew a walk to open the Mentor third and scored on Sluga’s second hit of the game. Temple also singled in the inning and pinch-runner Jordan Alesci scored on Kiley Markowski’s single that pushed the Mentor lead to 4-0.
NDCL scratched home two runs with two outs in the fifth.
Madi Dutton doubled and Gianna Messina drew a walk. Sophia Rowan then singled home Dutton and Messina scored on an error to cut the Mentor lead to 4-2.
Markowski scored an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when she singled and stole second. She moved to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-2.
That was a big run as Dutton singled with one out in the top of the seventh and Rowan hit a two-run homer to center with two outs.
Temple struck out the final NDCL batter to seal Mentor’s win.
“All around, it was just a good day,” Bondra said. “There are some mistakes we have to clean up, but we’ll get there. It was the first game on the new field and they had a big ceremony. There were a lot of nerves but we’re excited about the future.”
Sluga, Temple, and Markowski each finished the game with two hits for Mentor. Temple knocked in two runs and Sluga and Markowski each had one RBI. Alesci and Carcioppolo also stole bases in the game.
“If we can get those quicker girls on, and that’s our goal, and then move them around however we can,” Bondra said. “These girls are not selfish so if they have to bunt, they bunt, and if they have to steal, they steal. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. They know that.”
Temple allowed three earned runs on seven hits and struck out 12 to pick up the pitching victory.
Dutton and Rowan both were 2-for-4 for the Lions. Rowan recorded a game-high three RBI and Dutton struck out six in the circle.