by Tom Utescher
Back on April 23, neither team had its number one pitcher in the circle when Penn Charter churned out a 20-1 victory over Germantown Friends. With the ace on each staff appearing in last Tuesday’s rematch in a Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament quarterfinal, the contest was considerably closer, but the host PC Quakers still prevailed, 7-1.
Junior Kayla Quinn took the win for Charter, which improved to 15-5 overall, while sophomore Lizzie Becker pitched for the GFS Tigers, who ended their season with a mark of 11-3.
PC finished third within the Inter-Ac League with a record of 8-4, and the Quakers also drew the third seed for the Indy Schools championships.
Inter-Ac champ Episcopal Academy and runner-up Agnes Irwin snagged the first and second seeds for the Independent Schools affair, while Germantown Friends came in as the sixth seed, despite having beaten number five Springside Chestnut Hill early in the regular season.
GFS had made a 10-0 run through the Friends Schools League schedule for the first time ever, then was tripped up, 3-4, by Friends Central in the semifinal round of the FSL tournament. FC, which had gone on to capture its third straight Friends League title after topping the Tigers in the semifinals, drew the seventh seed for the Independents tourney and was edged out, 3-4, in a quarterfinal game against Agnes Irwin.
Germantown was the early leader in last Tuesday’s bout at Penn Charter, beginning the game with a single through the middle by junior Sophie Trotto. PC’s Quinn would give up only one more hit all day (in the seventh inning), while Charter would stack up 14 hits.
Trotto moved around to third on ground-outs by classmate Liana Spiro and senior Maddie Andrews. On an infield error by PC on a ball put in play by Tigers senior Rachel Allison, Trotto scored what would be the lone GFS run of the afternoon before a ground-out to short retired the side.
PC’s senior catcher, Kristina Kubach, was just coming back from a minor illness, and it was decided to player her at second base. Angela Zeidler, a member of the Quakers’ talented freshman class, did a good job filling in behind the plate. She is normally the starting third baseman, and in the personnel shuffle, shortstop Eileen Hennessy (a sophomore) moved over to play third, and her normal spot was filled by the regular second baseman, ninth-grader Brigitte Gutpelet.
With a walk and some GFS miscues, Charter was able to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the first, but the Tigers’ lead was preserved when their shortstop, Andrews, fielded a ground ball to end the inning.
Midway through the third frame, the visitors still led 1-0. In the home half, PC began a two-out rally with Gutpelet (who had led off with a hit) on third base. She tied the game on a single by Zeidler, and later senior Marissa Samuels (who will be a classmate of Andrews’ next fall at the University of Pennsylvania) doubled in what became the winning run of the game. After that, GFS appeared to get the third out on a tag at the plate, but interference in the basepath was called against the Tigers, and Charter took a 3-1 lead into the fourth inning.
After dispatching the visitors in order in the top half, the Quakers had Quinn lead off with a triple that bounced to the foot of the fence in centerfield. This led to a fourth PC run as Kubach smacked an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Another Penn Charter run was posted in the fifth, when sophomore Devon Loftus tripled to right center and scored on a sacrifice grounder by classmate Ayanna Matthews.
An error got the Tigers’ Trotto on base to lead off the sixth, but three consecutive outs followed, and PC’s Kubach began the bottom half with a triple to right field. Next up, Hennessy hammered a two-run homer over the fence in center, about a dozen feet to the left of the “220’” sign. The 7-1 final score was now up on the board.
With two outs in the top of the seventh and GFS freshman Hannah Hanson on first with a walk, Tigers junior Magda Andrews-Hoke singled for the visitors’ first hit since their first at-bat of the day. There were now two baserunners aboard, but Charter’s Quinn ended the contest with her fourth strike-out of the afternoon.
Wrapping up her first season with the Tigers, GFS head coach Steph Aurello related, “I was told that I was inheriting a really solid team when I got here, and that was absolutely right. This is a great group of girls to coach, and I loved every minute of it.
“There’s a really positive attitude on the team,” she continued, “and you couldn’t ask for better senior leadership. They’re going to leave some holes to fill, but we also had some young girls, including some freshmen, get a lot of playing experience this season. I’m excited for next year.”