by Tom Utescher
A late push by visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy made last Tuesday’s Inter-Ac League softball game seem less lopsided than it had been after six innings. The Blue Devils scored four times in the top of the seventh to fashion an 8-4 final score, but the host Quakers of Penn Charter were firmly in control most of the way, allowing only one SCH player on base during the first six frames.
Both teams were seeing their first action in their home state after taking trips down south over spring break. In South Carolina, PC complied a record of 4-2, while in Florida, SCH mixed its JV players with the varsity girls, and came away with a 1-5 mark.
Each school graduated three longtime varsity players from its 2012 line-up. Penn Charter has more seniors than SCH this spring, with Jess Drossner, Rachael Garnick, Molly Mornhinweg, and Nicole Weitz back in the dugout. Drossner will attend Washington University in St. Louis, Garnick is headed for Haverford, and Mornhinweg will trek out to the University of Montana.
The two seniors for Springside Chestnut Hill who appeared in last Tuesday’s game, Michelle Cybularz and Callan Goldman, are still mulling over their college choices.
At the other end of the age scale, each team boasts some freshman talent. SCH started two athletes who already played at the varsity level as eighth-graders in 2012, pitcher Madi Saltzman and second baseman Ashley Lubisky. Penn Charter’s starting line-up included freshmen Eileen Hennessy and Nikki Ray at shortstop and first base, respectively.
Ray, the new clean-up batter for the Quakers, came in to pitch in the sixth inning. Prior to that, Drossner, the starter in the circle, kept the lid on the Blue Devils’ offense. The PC senior struck out six batters, and sent the visitors down in order in each of the first four innings. After two straight outs to lead off the top of the fifth, sophomore Bridget McDermott singled to left field for the Blue Devils, but the next batter popped out.
Charter was holding a 3-0 lead, having done all of its scoring in the third stanza. Sophomore Kayla Quinn and junior Kristina Kubach each drew a walk, then an infield error on a ball hit by Mornhinweg loaded the bases. Ray rapped an extra-base hit to the foot of the fence in right centerfield, and although she was tagged out trying to reach the plate, the three runners ahead of her scored.
Charter actually loaded the bases again after that, but SCH escaped further damage as Saltzman retired the side with a strike-out. Relieving Drossner for the start of the sixth inning, Ray (2K, 1BB, 4H) dispatched the Devils, one-two-three.
Early in the bottom of the inning, PC started a rally with two outs and a runner on first. The visitors’ Saltzman had been struck in the leg by a hard-hit ball, but was able to resume pitching. On a strong grounder hit to the right side of the infield by Mornhinweg, there were Blue Devil miscues both in the infield and outfield, allowing both the PC senior and the runner ahead of her to score.
Later, Charter scored its sixth run as the Lions tried in vain to nail another runner headed towards third base. A line-drive double by Garnick drove in the last two runs for the hosts.
With one out at the top of the seventh, SCH set about breaking up the shutout. Cybularz and Saltzman both singled, and a double steal got the first run home, thanks in part to an errant PC throw. RBI singles from McDermott and junior Emily Miller-McGlone followed to make it 8-3, and the final score went up on the board when the Quakers committed an error on a ball put in play by the Blue Devils’ Kathleen Foley. A pop-up and a ground-out ended the game.