SCH softball battles past GA and PC to capture Indy Schools title

by Tom Utescher
Posted 5/31/24

After suffering a 1-0 loss in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament finals a year ago, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy's softball team captured the 2024 championship last Thursday at Ursinus College.

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SCH softball battles past GA and PC to capture Indy Schools title


After suffering a 1-0 loss in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament finals a year ago, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy's softball team captured the 2024 championship last Thursday at Ursinus College.

The SCH Blue Devils, who also won the title back in 2022, faced two area rivals in the semifinals and finals this year, and had quite a battle with each opponent. On their home field last Tuesday, the top-seeded Devils had to go 10 innings before defeating number five Germantown Academy, 6-5. On Thursday, third-seeded Penn Charter jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the top of the first inning, and SCH never led until a five-run rally in the fifth gave the Blue Devils a 10-6 advantage that held up as the final score.

SCH had defeated both teams twice during the Inter-Ac League campaign, but had lost twice by a single run to 2024 league champ Episcopal Academy. EA, however, chose not to participate in the PAIS tournament.

In the SCH-GA semifinal last Tuesday, both starting pitchers threw the entire game. SCH freshman Sami Snyder struck out 13 batters, allowed nine hits, and issued one intentional walk. GA's Liv Reynolds, a junior, had eight strike outs and nine hits, and one of her six walks was intentional.

Neither side scored through five innings. The Blue Devils came closest, when in the bottom of the fifth they benefitted from two walks and an error to load the bases with two outs. GA's Reynolds struck out the next batter to quash the threat.

Germantown then put two runs on the board in the top of the sixth. With a single and a steal, junior Alexandra Johnson was on second base with two outs. Junior Jazziah Manning got on base as SCH failed to get an out on a fielder's choice, then Reynolds doubled down the left field line, sending home both baserunners to make it 2-0.

In the field, GA turned a double play to limit SCH to three batters in the bottom of the inning. The Patriots loaded the bags with one out in the top of the seventh, but the score remained 2-0 thanks to a strike-out and a ground-out to shortstop.

In the bottom of the seventh, the first three Springside batters hit the ball to the left side. Freshman Emma Mellor punched the ball through on the ground, sophomore Sadie Friedman drove the ball over short, and junior Morgan Risnychok blooped a hit to shallow left field to load the bases.

The next batter popped out, then Snyder hit a two-run single down the line in left. That tied the game, and a strike-out and a ground-out sent it into extra innings.

It was still 2-2 after the eighth frame, and from then on each batting team would start out with a runner already positioned on second base. Junior Maggie Burkholder got the assignment for GA in the ninth, and she scored due to a wild pitch and an error to move the Patriots ahead.

Friedman started on second for SCH in the bottom half. She reached third on a passed ball and then scored on a ground-out by Risnychok.

Johnson began the tenth on second base for the visitors and stole third. Sophomore Ava Fumara got on with a bunt while Johnson was held at third base. After a strike-out (and a steal to second by Fumara), Reynolds bashed the ball to centerfield and it rolled under the fence for a ground-rule double. Two runs scored, and even though the Devils then retired the side with two ground-outs, the Patriots now led 5-3.

In the bottom of the tenth, SCH eighth-grader Emma Canton was positioned on second, staying put during a strike-out and then moving to second when junior Zarin DeVeaux walked. Freshman Libby Welch singled to shallow right near the line, and a fourth SCH run scored.

Another strike-out got the hosts down to their final out. The bases were loaded when Friedman was hit by a pitch, then Risnychok slugged a 3-1 pitch to right field. When two runners crossed the plate, the contest was finally over.

There had been some notable defensive efforts during the fray. In the sixth inning DeVeaux tumbled across the plastic fencing in centerfield as she made the catch on what looked to be a GA home run, and in the eighth Canton rushed to the fence alongside third base to glove a pop-up. GA's senior first baseman, Jessica Aponik, roamed into foul territory twice to catch pops, including one that was almost out-of-play.

In the other PAIS semifinal, Penn Charter cruised to a 9-2 win over the second seed, Friends Central. The Quakers' momentum from that victory carried over into the beginning of Thursday's final.

PC's first three batters in the game, freshman Ellie McKernan, sophomore Madelyn Bergmann, and senior Macie Bergmann, each hit a single, loading the bases. Junior Lauren Gedraitis put the ball in play and an SCH throwing error let two runs score. Sophomore Madison Wray waited out a walk to load the bases, and then the Blue Devils finally came up with an out as Snyder fanned the next batter.

Another Blue Devils miscue, this one on a ball hit by sophomore Nora Prasad gave Charter a 4-0 lead.

Springside got two runs back in the bottom of the inning, when Risnychok singled up the middle and Snyder hit a home run to left centerfield.

The Quakers went up 5-2 when Macie Bergmann doubled to center and later scored on Wray's hit to right field.

In the bottom of the second SCH tied the game, starting out with walks to freshmen Libby Welch and Callan Curry. Two outs followed, but then both baserunners scored when Friedman poked a hit to shallow centerfield. Next, Friedman came home on a triple to right center by Risnychok, tying the game at 5-5.

After this, Penn Charter withdrew its starting hurler, senior Peyton Handler (0K, 3BB, 4H) from the circle and put in Gedraitis (1K, 4BB, 2H), who had pitched the last four innings in PC's semifinal victory.

The contest remained tied through the third inning, then the Quakers went ahead again in the top of the fourth. Here, Madelyn Bergman led off with a triple over the head of the left fielder and then scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-5.

Skip to the bottom of the fifth, where SCH started out with a double to left center by Snyder. She went to third on a wild pitch but then was tagged out at home on a fielder's choice play that landed Canton on first base. Welch was hit by a pitch and Curry drew a walk to load the bases, and another walk to DeVeaux pushed home the tying run.

When Mellor put the ball in play in the infield, PC got the force-out at home, but then an effort to double-up the runner at first went awry. A run scored, and the Devils were now ahead 7-6. Friedman walked to load the bases once more, and on a hard-hit ground ball by Risnychok, a fielding error netted two more runs and left Blue Devils on first and third base.

Senior Kama Bode and Synder were both hit by pitches, first loading the bases again and then forcing home the runner on third for a 10-6 SCH lead. Charter then had the starting pitcher, Handler, reenter the game, and a pop-up finally retired the side.

At bat at the top of the sixth and seventh innings, the Quakers went down one-two-three both times, and the Blue Devils clinched the 2024 Indy Schools championship.