LANSDALE >> Sometimes, miscommunications happen early in a season.
Such was the case in the fifth inning as Abington outfielder Lily Campoli was approaching third base. Galloping Ghosts coach Ellie White told the junior to “take a turn,” while Campoli thought White said “take off.”
So, it was definitely a miscommunication. But it also worked out as Campoli got home ahead of the throw, scoring the eventual winning run in a 3-2 Abington win at Lansdale Catholic.
“We’ll work on that, it’s early still,” White, in her 23rd year coaching Abington, said. “We only have three starters back from last year and those starters are in different positions, so we’re a very young, raw team.”
That described both teams on the field Thursday. The Ghosts only have one senior, pitcher Megan Burdziak and are still very much in the mix-and-match phase of the season, trying to fit players where they can best utilize their skills.
Likewise, the Crusaders are retooling after losing several mainstays from the past few seasons. On top of that, LC is without the services of senior shortstop Maggie Wunder at the plate and in the field. Wunder tore an ACL in fall preseason, missed all of soccer season and is hoping to get medically cleared for a May return, coach Paul Suder said.
LC has started the season 0-2 and both losses were by a single run. The Crusaders led Hatboro-Horsham going into the final inning and Suder felt like they didn’t swing well on Thursday and left runs on the table.
“It’s like a meal you paid too much for but the food was good,” Suder said. “We lost two one-run games and could have won both of them. I just felt we should have scored a few more runs today.”
Abington may be short on experience but one thing the Ghosts don’t lack is personality. The player White pointed to as the lynchpin of their high-energy, high-comedy act is junior Tori Brandenberger, also a player Abington is leaning on quite a bit this season.
Last season, Brandenberger played behind Nikki Ray at third base and in the pitching circle. Ray is now at Bloomsburg and Brandenberger got the start on Thursday, striking out four in three innings of work then playing third the rest of the game. On top of that, she recorded two hits including the go-ahead single in the fifth.
“I told myself just to relax, swing at the first pitch and be aggressive,” Brandenberger said. “My first at-bat I was in a 3-1 count and got back with a strike so I was pretty mad at that and I wanted to come in aggressive my next at-bats.”
Burdziak pitched the last four innings, also recording four strikeouts including big ones on LC’s 1-2 hitters to start off the sixth inning.
White, who has a lot of teams to draw from, said this year’s group is probably the most fun group she’s ever had and they genuinely seem to enjoy coming out to practice. At one point Thursday, Burdziak put a pitch in the dirt and without missing a beat, Brandenberger belted out “great pitch!”
“I can turn around and have a joke for my first baseman and everybody will be laughing,” Brandenberger said. “Everybody enjoys each other’s company. But we also know when to settle down because Coach White’s so strict on us that it’s softball first. We realize if we’re losing and we need to get a hit, we focus and settle down.”
Campoli drove in the game’s first run when her single plated Julie Burkhart in the second. LC came back in the home half of the inning to put the pressure back on the visiting side. Right fielder Rachel Harryn reached on an error to start the frame.
Taylor Molettiere ripped a double with one out to tie the game and centerfielder Lauren Crim followed with a long single to score Molettiere for the go-ahead run. Brandenberger came back with a punchout of Nicole Passerini and induced a Megan Maloney pop-up to end the threat and leave LC wanting a bit more.
“The umpire was calling inside pitches all day and we were taking them and not swinging at them, even with two strikes,” Suder said. “You have to adjust yourself to the umpire and we didn’t do a good job with that. We should have scored more runs early but there were a lot of swings and misses.”
Suder gave props to Brandenberger for making contact on a changeup by Mary Piccozi in the fifth inning. Piccozi, a freshman, has shown plenty of potential in the team’s two games and Suder said there are a number of underclassmen that could push for playing time by the end of the season.
There’s a lot of season yet to be played for both of these teams, and a lot of solving left to be done on their respective puzzles. Abington will face some tough competition in the SOL National and on its nonleague slate, while LC has the PCL and its own nonleague challenges.
It’s not hard to imagine either team taking on a different look by this time next month.
“We need to work on things but by the middle or the end of the year, I think we could be a pretty good team,” Suder said. “We may end up being real, real young but that may be what we need to do.”
ABINGTON 010 020 0 – 3 9 1
LANSDALE CATHOLIC 020 000 0 – 2 2 0
Pitching: A – Tori Brandenberger, Megan Burdziak (4) and Brooke Clewell, Olvia Bernstein (4); LC – Erin Llewellyn, Mary Piccozi (5) and Rebecca Tiley. SO-BB: Brandenberger 4, Burdziak 4, Llewellyn 3, Piccozi 2. 2B: Taylor Molettiere (LC).
Top Photo: Lansdale Catholic shortstop Delaney Smith puts out Abington runner Renee Reynolds as she tries to steal second base during their game on Thursday, March 30, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)