By BRIAN CUNNIFF
NORTH WILDWOOD – A stellar pitching performance and timely offense helped give the Wildwood Catholic Academy softball team a victory over a local rival Tuesday afternoon.
Pitcher Rebecca Cessna tossed a one-hitter, Julia Wallace delivered a key RBI hit and Wildwood Catholic tacked on a few insurance runs in the sixth inning en route to a 4-0 victory over Middle Township.
“It’s a great win,” Wildwood Catholic coach Mark Krause said. “This is a big-time rivalry. It always has been. We saw two great pitchers today.”
After both teams had trouble generating any offense through three innings, Wildwood Catholic catcher Emily Evans reached base with one out in the fourth, stole second and scored on Wallace’s single to center field.
“That was big because I think it put a lot of pressure on them once we got the lead,” Krause said.
Wildwood Catholic later took advantage of an infield single, a couple of walks, failed execution of a rundown and a passed ball to add three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Middle put runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh after a pair of walks, but Cessna struck out the final batter to end the threat and the game.
Cessna, a junior righthander, struck out 12 and walked four.
Wildwood Catholic improved to 5-3 with the victory.
“We’re improving with every passing game,” Krause said. “It all comes down to pitching and Becca’s been very good. That makes a big difference. Our defense has been improving behind her. Hopefully we’ll keep it going from here.”
Emma Messer’s sixth-inning single to left field accounted for Middle’s only hit.
A scary moment occurred in the bottom of the sixth when Middle pitcher Gabby Cruz was struck in her pitching arm by a line drive off the bat of Cessna. Cruz recovered to throw Cessna out at first but went to her knees in pain. She remained in the game after a long delay. Cruz struck out nine Crusader hitters for the game.