UPPER DARBY >> Maggie Loomis acquitted herself very well in her varsity debut.
With her big sister, Emily, a senior All-Delco, firmly entrenched in the Cardinal O’Hara lineup, the freshman left fielder was out to make a name for herself Friday in the Lions’ season opener against reigning Central League champion Upper Darby.
All Maggie did was collect three RBIs on two hits, including a key two-run single that snapped a tie score in the top of the seventh inning. The Lions plated five runs in the frame, and survived a furious comeback by UD in the bottom half to earn a 9-8 victory, the first under new head coach Bob Adams.
So, Maggie, how was your first day?
“I was kind of nervous about it all day,” she said. “But once I got here, I kind of forgot about it and just played.”
Loomis slapped a single through vacated territory on the right side of the infield and into right field, scoring Jenna Smith and Annemarie Banes to give O’Hara a 6-4 advantage. O’Hara tacked on three runs, thanks to RBI singles by Alexia Galli and Maura Kane, and a run-producing groundout by Hanna Maier.
The Lions needed every one of those runs.
The bottom of the seventh started innocently enough for Smith, a sophomore pitcher who was making her varsity debut. She retired the Royals’ eight- and nine-hole hitters on strikes to begin the inning.
That’s when things started to get interesting.
Rebecca Sorrentino singled and Sara Sullivan coaxed a walk. All-Delco catcher Lexi Witmer hit a single the opposite way to right field to score a run, and Witmer’s sister, Sam, an All-Delco outfielder, followed with an RBI knock. Brooke Jones stroked a two-run single to make it a one-run game.
That’s when Adams said he experienced a little agita.
Smith, though, was able to bear down and get Camryn Young, who blasted a solo homer in the previous inning, on a called third strike.
O’Hara was facing live pitching for the first time. The Lions didn’t get a chance to play a scrimmage, and practice time outside was very limited.
If they were rusty, they hardly let it show.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking coming into this, without seeing live pitching and stuff,” Banes said. “I think we worked well as a team and came out and got this win. We have a lot of young girls. So, if I was nervous, I can’t even imagine how I was feeling.”
Banes is a joy to watch play softball. An All-Delco last summer, the slick-fielding shortstop ignited the Lions in the first inning when she ripped a hard single up the middle, stole second base and scored on a sacrifice bunt … all the way from second.
In the fifth inning, Banes ripped an RBI triple to give the Lions a 3-2 lead. She finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
“Everyone came up big in this game,” Banes said, “from the top of the lineup to the bottom of the lineup.”
Emily Loomis, who was the Catholic League MVP last season, smashed a home run to the gap in left-center to tie the game in the third inning, after
UD took a 2-1 lead on a two-run double by Madi Powdery.
For the Loomis sisters, it was a good first day.
“It was a good moment for both of us to do well today,” said Emily, who will continue her playing career at Eastern. Emily and Maggie are both members of the Pegasus softball travel organization. “As a team, we’re all picking each other up. That’s what we were able to do today.”
Smith struck out the first two batters she faced and ended the day with eight punchouts.
Sorrentino, a sophomore and second-year starting pitcher, struck out six and allowed six earned runs on 13 hits.
In other nonleague action:
Bonner & Prendergast 11, Bentworth (Pa.) 1 >> The Pandas split a doubleheader at the South Carolina Softball Tournament in Myrtle Beach.
In the nightcap, Molly McNulty recorded seven Ks and Caroline Manfre was 3-for-3 with a double. Kerri Quinn belted a two-run triple and Hayley Rugh homered for the Pandas.
Chartiers Houston (Pa.) 4, Bonner & Prendergast 1 >> Kelsey Czibik had a triple and Melissa Callahan chipped in with a double for the Pandas.
Penncrest 8, Chichester 2 >> The Lions pounded out 11 hits, including triples by Emma Stauffer, Megan Clancy and Brett Gavin. Maya Hartman was the winning pitcher.
Nicole O’Donnell slammed a home run for Chi.
In the Ches-Mont League:
Bishop Shanahan 6, Sun Valley 0 >> Emily Fisher and Maddy Gutowiecz produced the only hits for the Vanguards in their season opener.
Fisher allowed just one earned run to Shanahan, which constructed a 5-0 lead in the second inning and added a sixth run in the fifth inning.