HADDON HEIGHTS (N.J.) - The Notre Dame High School softball team was looking to bounce back from a walk-off loss to Hillsborough against Haddon Heights.
One swing of the bat by junior Madalena Creo powered the Irish to a 2-0 win over the Garnets on Monday afternoon. Creo's two-run home run with two strikes and two outs in the top of the seventh inning gave Notre Dame the lead.
The junior is no stranger to hitting home runs in big spots. Last week, she capped a three-run eighth inning with a two-run home run to knock off Donovan Catholic in extra innings. The Griffins were the top-ranked team in New Jersey at the time.
Creo feels more comfortable in the box with two strikes compared to a fresh count.
"I think I'm a better hitter with two strikes," Creo said. "As the at-bat went on when I hit the home run, I just felt more confident in myself after every pitch."
Notre Dame's Madalena Creo blasted a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to lift the Irish to a 2-0 win over Haddon Heights at Haddon Heights High School in Haddon Heights, New Jersey on Monday, May 8, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network
Rylee Michalak hurled seven shutout innings and allowed only three hits for Notre Dame. The Houston commit struck out 12 batters.
Haddon Heights standout Sophia Bordi also allowed only three hits and struck out 13 batters over 6.2 innings of work.
The Irish have found ways to win close games as of late. Notre Dame has won three out of its last five games by no more than three runs in each contest.
"We're a relentless team," Notre Dame coach Chris Jackson said. "I tried to make our schedule as hard as possible this year and so far these girls have done nothing but exceed expectations."
Notre Dame has embraced the adversity thrown its way in the recent days.
"I like playing challenging teams because we get to play some of the best teams in the state," Michalak said. "We're really junior heavy but we put the pieces together with the ultimate goal being to win every game ahead of us."
Houston commit Rylee Michalak tossed seven shutout innings while allowing only three hits and racking up 12 strikeouts in Notre Dame's 2-0 win over Haddon Heights at Haddon Heights High School in Haddon Heights, New Jersey on Monday, May 8, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network
Michalak praised her defense for helping get the job done. In addition to racking up 12 strikeouts, Michalak forced six groundouts and three flyouts or lineouts.
"I know they have my back," the Houston commit said. "I love them and trust them so I'm able to go out there with a clear head and focus on making the pitches I need to."