by Tom Utescher
Conditions were warm and sunny for the first hour of last Friday’s Inter-Ac League softball game at Baldwin School, but westerly winds banished the balminess and spread a gray veil across the Bryn Mawr sky a little later on. With a seeming threat of rain as the host Bears and visiting Penn Charter ended the third inning in a 3-3 tie, it wasn’t certain that the game would be completed, but things took a dramatic turn in the fourth frame.
Penn Charter piled 11 runs on the scoreboard during its turn at bat and added another three in the top of the fifth, shutting out Baldwin in the bottom of both innings to end the game early through the mercy rule. The 17-3 decision lifted the Quakers to a 5-1 overall record and nudged them above the .500 mark in league play, at 2-1. Junior pitcher Kayla Quinn collected the win, striking out 11 batters while walking five.
Quinn and Mikayla Cimino are the only juniors playing for PC, and the young squad includes just three seniors, Kelsey Hinshaw, Kristina Kubach, and Marissa Samuels. Sophomores Eileen Hennessy, Devon Loftus, Ayanna Matthews, and Zoe Neefe are all returning varsity players, and the first three were starters a year ago.
From the 2013 line-up, four players have graduated and one switched schools, but the Quakers have brought six freshmen into the varsity fold this spring. Abby Cohen, Marilyn Pease, and Emily Zurcher were already attending Penn Charter, while Faith Fenton, Brigitte Gutpelet, and Angela Zeidler are new students at the school.
Fenton, a pitcher, has been alternating with Quinn. The freshman was in the circle for a 12-0 non-league victory over Friends Central last Wednesday. Due to the postponement of another contest, Quinn hadn’t pitched a game in almost a week going into the Baldwin bout, so longtime PC skipper Donald “Doc” Mittica was glad to hand her the ball.
The junior had to shed a little rust early in Friday’s foray, walking a pair of Bears and giving up a two-run double later on in the bottom of the first. After going down in order at the top of the opening inning, the Quakers got their bats going in the second round. Hennessy, the shortstop, led off with a triple hit high in the air over the head of the left fielder. She would score a little later on a passed ball, and Matthews, the first baseman, singled in another run to tie the game.
Each team added one run in the third. Gutpelet led PC off with a base hit, and after Kubach drew a walk, a steal towards third drew a shaky response from Baldwin and a run scored. Quinn walked and scooted straight to second on the same play as the Bears momentarily went into hibernation.
What looked like the start of an offensive surge for the visitors ended abruptly. Hennessy hit a fly deep to center, where the Baldwin outfielder couldn’t stop the ball from popping out of her glove, but was able to save it with her other hand before it hit the ground.
By the time she actually controlled the ball for the out, the two PC baserunners had already tagged up and started down toward third and home. Baldwin appealed at both second and third base, and the umps ruled that both Quakers had left early, forming the basis for an unusual triple play.
Baldwin leveled the score at 3-3 in the bottom half, starting out with a single and then getting an RBI triple deep to right field by pitcher Sam O’Keefe. There were still no outs, but Quinn struck out the next batter, then grabbed a grounder and threw to Kubach, the catcher, for a tag at the plate. Quinn chalked up another “K” to end the inning, and the Bears would not score again.
On defense, things just fell apart for the home team at the top of the fourth. Overall, the Baldwin ballclub displayed a higher softball IQ than many past teams at the school, but as PC batters kept making contact with the ball, the Bears became a bit rattled, compounding their problems with several wild throws.
Just about everyone had a hand in PC’s 11-run inning, which featured 15 different appearances at the plate. The Quakers lifted their lead into double digits (13-3) when one of the freshmen, Zeidler, doubled down the left field line with bases loaded. Everyone ahead of her scored and Zeidler ended up on third as Baldwin threw the ball out of play.
After tacking on a 14th run, Charter went back out in the field, shifting some players to different positions but still sending the hosts down, one-two-three. Ringing up another three runs in the top of the fifth, PC now needed to hold the Bears in the bottom half to end the game early. The lead-off batter grounded out to Hennessy at short, but the next one was struck by a pitch and went to first. After that, the Quakers’ Quinn ended her day with a pair of strike-outs.