by Tom Utescher
Penn Charter’s softball pitchers and hitters performed well last Wednesday at Germantown Friends, where the visiting Quakers held a 4-1 edge after two innings, and then chalked up seven more runs in their next four turns at bat.
The contest ended after the GFS Tigers batted in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Charter’s 11-1 victory yielded an overall record of 10-4. PC outslugged GFS, 16-4, and its pitchers combined for 11 strike-outs while giving up a total of just two walks.
GFS has been enjoying a successful season overall, and even after Wednesday’s setback the Tigers owned an 8-3 record. Their meeting with Penn Charter fell in between games against strong Friends Schools League opponents, and they did not use their number one pitcher, freshman Lizzie Becker, in the non-league tilt with the Quakers.
Two days earlier, both the Tigers and Friends Select had been undefeated in league play when GFS travelled downtown to play the Falcons. Germantown did not bring it’s “A” game, though, and slipped a notch to 6-1 in the FSL. That was the end of the first round of league encounters for the Tigers, who recorded victories over traditionally strong Abington Friends and defending league champ Friends Central. A rematch with AFS was next on the docket after PC.
Penn Charter, fourth in the Girls Inter-Ac a year ago, has gotten off to a 4-0 start in the league, including wins over fellow title contenders Episcopal Academy and Agnes Irwin two weeks ago. The Quakers won 9-2 at EA on April 16, then hosted defending champion Irwin three days later. PC went up 6-0, fell back into a tie, but regrouped and prevailed, 9-6.
Last Wednesday at GFS, Charter started senior Jess Drossner in the circle, and she went four innings with seven strike-outs and two bases on balls. Sophomore Kayla Quinn didn’t walk anyone during the last two frames, and added four more strike-outs to the Quakers’ collection. GFS junior Becca Bateman went the distance for the hosts, finishing with no strike-outs and four walks.
Neither team had all of its regular starters available, as several players had been sidelined by illness. GFS went without senior third baseman Isabelle Linguiti, who was replaced by senior Rebecca Blaich, normally the flex player for the Tigers.
PC was missing junior catcher Kristina Kubach and freshman shortstop Eileen Hennessy. PC shifted existing starters during the game, while two reserve players, senior Nciole Weitz and freshman Zoe Neefe, saw action throughout the afternoon.
With Bateman in the circle for GFS, the other pitcher, Becker, was put out in left field, and at the top of the first she accounted for all three outs. The first two came when she gloved a fly ball and threw out a runner trying to score from third base.
Next, PC senior Rachael Garnick, who had walked on base, stolen second, and gone to third on the play at the plate, scored on a single by freshman Nikki Ray. Ray would pick up two more RBI’s in the game, going three-for-four in the batter’s box.
GFS wrapped up PC’s first turn at bat when Becker charged in to nab a fly ball hit to shallow left, but the Tigers couldn’t get anything going in the home half, going down in order.
Neefe singled up the middle to launch PC in the second inning, and she went to third as Weitz reached second on a throwing error. A ball lofted to right field by freshman Ayanna Matthews was dropped, getting her to second base and scoring a run, but Germantown Friends did get an out on the play with a tag at third.
Matthews went to third on a wild pitch, then stayed there as her ninth-grade classmate Devon Loftus waited out a walk. On a steal attempt, a GFS throw ended up in centerfield, so Loftus was safe on second while Matthews scored to make it 3-0. Quinn (3/5 hitting) cracked a single down the left field line to give the visitors runners on first and third, but they had to hold their spots on a ground-out to the right side.
Another grounder, this one batted up by Mornhinweg, led to an error by the Tigers, and a fourth Penn Charter run came home.
GFS broke the 4-0 shutout in the bottom of the second, which began with junior Rachel Allison getting hit by a pitch and Becker drawing a walk.
After the two Tigers stole ahead to second and third, what would be the only GFS run of the afternoon scored on a passed ball.
Penn Charter scored twice in each of its next three turns on offense, starting at the top of the third with a two-run triple by Loftus over the head of the centerfielder. Next time up, the runs scored on a double steal and Ray’s second RBI hit, a single through the left side.
In the home half of the fourth, and error put Allison on first, then a stolen base followed by a sacrifice fly by Becker gave the Tigers a runner on third. Following a base on balls for sophomore Sophie Trotto and a subsequent strike-out, another walk (to Blaich) loaded the bases with two outs, but a pop-up ended the inning.
With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth due to an error, a hit by Quinn, and a walk to Garnick (her third), back-to-back RBI singles by Mornhinweg and Ray pushed PC’s lead to nine at 10-1. The Quakers still had the bases loaded with one out, but the Tigers pocketed a fly ball and a pop-up, postponing the implementation of the mercy rule for one inning.
Unfortunately for the hosts, only four batters appeared in the bottom of the fifth, when junior Maddie Andrews got to first on an error but was left stranded there.
Weitz led off for the Quakers in the sixth inning with a single just to the right of second base. After that, a wild pitch and a ground-out by Matthews gave PC a runner on third. Loftus hit a line drive that glanced off the glove of the third baseman, spreading the margin to 10 runs at 11-1. After a fly-out, Loftus went to second on a hit to shallow center by Garnick, then on another ball hit to center, but much higher and deeper, GFS senior outfielder Erica Heinz made a nice grab for the third out.
In the home half of the sixth, the Tigers needed to get PC’s lead back down into single figures to bring about a seventh inning, but they began with two outs. Heinz sent a hit into right field and made it to second as PC was slow to retrieve the ball, but then Quinn’s fourth strike-out for the Quakers brought the game to an end.
UPDATE: Both teams posted 4-1 league victories on Friday, Penn Charter over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and GFS over Abington Friends. Becker, the Tigers’ freshman, pitched a no-hitter.