LONDON GROVE >> It was the first high-profile pitching showdown of the young Ches-Mont softball season, and the two combatants know each other well. Great Valley’s Morgan Orlowski and Avon Grove’s Rachel Butler were teammates nine months ago during summer ball.
On Wednesday, Butler’s Red Devils cruised to a 10-0 mercy rule triumph over Orlowski, but the Patriots’ senior had some stiff the odds stacked against her. Bound for La Salle University next fall, Orlowski took to the mound for the third consecutive day, and unlike Butler, she does not have a seasoned, proven group of teammates backing her up.
“What I am most pleased about is the way our kids adjusted at the plate,” said Avon Grove head coach Mike DeLuzio. “(Orlowski) is a quality pitcher, so that makes it all the better.”
An emerging two-way star, Butler went four innings, fanned five and allowed just two hits and no walks. And at the plate, the junior went 2-for-3 with a home run, and drove in three runs.
“It was a little nerve wracking because I know (Orlowski) is good,” Butler said. “But I came in confident on the mound and at the plate.
“I’ve been pitching for a while and I know the deal. In previous seasons, I didn’t have the best starts at the plate, but this year seems to be really different.”
In five games, Butler has already blasted three homers, and the Devils (4-0, 4-1 overall) have scored 38 runs so far. Those are important numbers as Avon Grove can no longer count on winning close, low scoring games because former pitching ace Maggie Balint is now playing Division I ball at Oregon.
“We talked before the season about having to put more runs on the board,” DeLuzio pointed out. “Rachel has pitched extremely well, but we know we are going to have to hit the ball a bit, and we are ready.
“We’ve hit a home run in each of the last four games, so we have some power. But we also pride ourselves that we can play small ball if we need it.”
Clearly fatigued, Orlowski lasted just three and a third innings and was tagged for eight runs on eight hits. Great Valley falls to 1-3 overall.
“Pitching three days in a row is tough to do but Morgan was courageous enough to give it a shot,” Pats’ head coach Jeff Celucci said. “She lasted as long as she could.”
The Devils broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third inning thanks to Butler’s two-run home run and a run-scoring double by Allyson Wallaver. And then in the fourth they sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six more times.
“(Avon Grove) brings back a very experienced team, and most of them played in the state championship game,” Celucci said. “Plus they are well coached and they work hard. They are not as dependent on one pitcher, but they know that and they are all chipping in. They look good.”
Megan Nolan started the rally with a run-scoring triple, and then Morgan Defeo and Wallaver each followed with RBI doubles. Orlowski then exited after surrendering another hit by Butler that knocked in a run.
“Last year most of our hitters were sophomores, so they are another year more experienced,” DeLuzio said.
“It’s a big relief for me because I am not necessarily a strikeout pitcher,” Butler added. “I rely on my defense and when the offense is good, it really helps. We are hitting it well right now and that’s reassuring.”
The Red Devils closed thanks to a bases loaded walk in the fifth. Wallaver finished with three hits and two RBI, while Nolan and Olivia Kunitsky each added two hits.
“But we are not fooled by our record,” DeLuzio warned. “We have some tough games coming up.”
In all, Great Valley managed just three hits, including a fourth inning double by catcher Kacey Bryan. It was the only time the Patriots were able to get a runner into scoring position.
“We are trying to replace seven seniors and we had no junior varsity team last year, so we don’t have a ton of experience,” Celucci explained. “They are learning but they came in a little flat today.
“We will write this one off. I would have liked for us to have been more enthused, but we are learning and trying to get better each day.”
Avon Grove 10, Great Valley 0 (5 innings)
- VALLEY ab r h bi A. GROVE ab r h bi
Bevec ss 2 0 0 0 Nolan 2b 3 2 2 1
Rubin 2b 2 0 0 0 Defeo ss 3 2 1 1
Orlowski p 2 0 0 0 Wallaver 1b 3 2 3 2
Bryan c 2 0 1 0 Butler 3 1 2 3
Groskin dp 2 0 0 0 Salisbury pr 0 1 0 0
Nadowochy rf1 0 0 0 Kunitsky c 2 1 2 1
Kern rf 1 0 0 0 Barnhart p 1 0 0 0
Bullock 3b 1 0 0 0 Laterza cf 2 0 0 0
Olafson 3b 1 0 0 0 Murphy rf 2 0 0 1
Armand 1b 1 0 0 0 Kristman 3b 2 0 0 0
McGarvey 1b 1 0 1 0 Vanscver 3b 1 0 0 0
Barbie cf 2 0 1 0 Raymond dp1 1 0 0
Thompsn dp1 0 1 1
Totals 18 0 3 0 Totals 24 10 10 10
Away 000 000 00 — 0
Home 000 000 00 — 0
2B – Bryan, Defeo, Wallaver 2, Kunitski. 3B – Nolan. HR – Butler.
IP H R BB SO
Orlowski, L 3.1 8 8 3 4
McCarthy 1.2 3 2 3 0
Butler, W 4 2 0 5 0
Barnhart 1 1 0 0 2