HATBORO >> For a few seconds, time still stood Monday, June 6 as everyone took a moment to absorb what had actually just happened in the Bristol High softball team’s state tournament game.
Yes, freshman Hailey Sweeney, you did indeed just hit a walk-off, lead-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel the Lady Warriors to a 3-2 win over Greenwood and into the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class A state tournament.
With the victory, Bristol (20-0) advanced to play Williams Valley, a traditional powerhouse in Pennsylvania Class A softball that defeated GAMP, 39-0, in its opener. The Bristol-Williams Valley game will be played Thursday, June 9 at a site yet to be announced.
Although Sweeney had homered earlier in the season, with the way Greenwood’s Brooke Louden was pitching, there was no reason to expect the sudden ending. Through six innings, Louden had yielded just three hits, struck out nine and yielded only one earned run.
As the game went along, however, Bristol started picking up on the trend that Louden liked to get ahead in the count by nearly always throwing a strike on the first pitch. With that in mind, Sweeney went to the plate locked and loaded, and the result was a laser over the 200-foot centerfield fence at the Hatboro-Horsham field.
“I have no idea where the pitch was, but I did know her first pitch is always a strike,” said a jubilant Sweeney. “I went up thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if I hit a home run to win the game’ — and I did it.”
Echoed Bristol coach Mike Lalli: “By the second inning, we started talking about swinging at her first pitch. She’s a tough pitcher once she gets ahead. We knew Hailey has power. She just put a really good swing on it.”
Although Bristol never trailed in this game, for much of the afternoon, it looked like it was just sort of hanging on as Greenwood repeatedly threatened including in the second and third innings when it left the bases loaded.
Bristol’s first two runs came in the second when starting pitcher Bryanna Vearling lofted a fly ball down the right field line that was misplayed into a triple. From there, Sweeney got the first run home with a pretty suicide squeeze and the second run scored on an error.
Greenwood (18-3) cut the Bristol lead in half in the third inning on a walk to Maddy Pile, and a smoked triple to right field by Nikki Willi. Those two worked their magic again in the fifth when the speedy Pyle started off with a slap single that went straight to a Bristol fielder and Willi ripped a double in the right-center gap.
This combination then nearly worked for a third time. Headed to Michigan State to play field hockey, Pyle slapped a single to left with one out in the seventh. Up stepped Willi, who hit a towering fly ball to left that Vearling hauled in near the fence. Vearling was in left at this point because she had been relieved by Cara Fabiano after Greenwood tied it in the fifth.
All of this set the stage for Sweeney, who came up huge with a line shot she will remember all her life.
“I just drove it,” she said. “To be able to do this as a freshman is a really special feeling.”
PIAA Class A Tournament
Bristol 2, Greenwood 1
(June 6 at Hatboro-Horsham)
Greenwood (18-3) 001 010 0 – 2 6 1
Bristol (20-0) 020 000 1 – 3 4 0
WP — Fabiano; LP — Louden; 2B — Willi (G); 3B — Willi, Vearling (B); RBIs: G — Willi 2; B — Sweeney 2.
PIAA CLASS AA Tournament
Pequea Valley blanks Conwell-Egan in PIAA opener
GLENSIDE >> The Eagles ran into a fireballer in Gabrianna Ryan, who cranked up a five-hit shutout while striking out an impressive 16 batters. Alexis Gartner threw very well in defeat with a five-hitter of her own. The lone run came in the first on an RBI single by Kate Dilozio. Tori McCoach had two of Conwell-Egan’s five hits.
Pequea Valley 1, Conwell-Egan 0
(June 6 at Arcadia University)
Pequea Valley 100 000 0 – 1 5 1
Conwell-Egan (9-13) 000 000 0 – 0 5 1
WP — Ryan. LP — Gartner. RBIs: Dilozio.