WILMINGTON – It was Toni Browning’s afternoon Friday at Canby Park. The Ursuline freshman got the job done at the plate and on the mound as the Raiders defeated St. Elizabeth, 8-1, in Catholic Conference softball.
Browning came to the plate with one out in the top of the first inning and gave everyone an indication of what was to come. She blasted a ball to center field, and with no fences at Canby, she was able to circle the bases to give Ursuline an early 1-0 advantage. She would finish the day 4-for-4. She may have done an even better job pitching, surrendering three hits and striking out 13 as she handcuffed the Vikings.
She improved to 4-5 on the season, and it might not have even been her best pitching performance of the last seven days. On April 25, Browning threw a no-hitter against Dickinson and struck out 14.
Despite the lack of hits, St. Elizabeth had some baserunners thanks to walks, a hit batter and five Ursuline errors. They managed to put enough offense together in the bottom of the third to tie the contest. Claudia Roncone led off the inning with a single, went to second on a fielder’s choice and took third on a wild pitch. Walks to Jaclyn Garyantes and Olivia Donahue loaded the bases with one out. The next batter, Grace Dunleavy, grounded a ball to second, but the throw home glanced off the glove of catcher Gina Hallman, allowing Roncone to score.
The bases remained loaded, and the Vikings looked to take the lead. The next batter bunted, and the charging Ursuline third baseman dove in an attempt to catch the ball in the air. She didn’t quite get there, but the ball rolled off her glove right to Hallman, who picked it up while standing on the plate for a force out. A strikeout ended the frame.
Ursuline regained the lead in their half of the fourth. Hallman led off with a walk and advanced to second on a hard single to center by Rory Kendle. Both runners scored when Emily Alexio drilled a long single to right-center. The lead was 3-1, and the Raiders would add three more in the fifth and two in the sixth to win going away. Kendle had three hits, including a home run in the fifth.
Next up for the Raiders (5-5) is a visit to Charter on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. St. Elizabeth (4-8) is also on the road Tuesday at 3:45 p.m., meeting Padua at Midway Softball Complex.