MEDIA >> There was a feeling among Penncrest players that they were getting closer to contending for a Central League championship. It had been roughly a decade since the Lions were considered one of the teams to beat.
Junior pitcher Maya Hartman and senior shortstop Victoria Reed believed that the stars would align this season.
They were right.
“A lot of us have been playing together through town ball and stuff, since we were little, so we’ve kind of been talking about this season, when all the seniors are seniors and we felt that we were going to be our best this year,” Hartman said Wednesday after pitching Penncrest to a 4-1 triumph over Central League rival Garnet Valley. Hartman tossed a complete game with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Reed, who will continue her education at University of Sciences, echoed Hartman’s sentiments. This group of talented players endured struggles, but the several years of playing together are finally beginning to pay dividends.
“We’ve all been playing together for so long,” said Reed, who had a single and a sacrifice fly. “We had losing season after losing season, even starting all the way back in the Del Val (Youth League). I guess it was bound to happen for us, you know? We work really hard and the coaches all put in the time.”
Penncrest is 8-0 overall, 6-0 in the Central League. The Lions are the only undefeated team remaining in Delaware County.
“In the beginning of last year we were having some issues finishing the close games, but we’ve grown a lot in the past year,” Hartman said. “Games like this, we would have lost last year.”
Hartman entered the day leading Delco in shutouts with four. She approached Garnet Valley (5-3, 3-3) aggressively, mixing in heaters and off-speed pitches. Lindsey Hunt, GV’s slugging sophomore catcher, tagged Hartman for two hits, including a triple. Hartman worked out of danger in the top of the fifth when Hope DiMario and Hunt both singled.
“I was throwing a lot of rises and curves. I knew their first five batters are really strong. I wasn’t expecting to have a shutout or no-hitter or anything,”
Hartman said. “Especially Lindsey Hunt, I was expecting her to hit the ball. I came in here knowing that I had to shut down the rest of the lineup and keep the ball as far away from the middle of the plate as I could.”
Hunt and the Jags were aware they were facing a team that was playing with a lot of confidence.
“We believed that we had to come out here and give it our best and let no mistakes happen,” she said. “But we just needed to have high energy and try our best. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Hunt accounted for two of the Jaguars’ six hits off Hartman.
“Her riseball, her spin is really deceitful. You think it’s right there over the plate and then the ball goes up and you’re like, ‘Uh-oh.’ Also, she has a good changeup that she mixes in as well so you’ve got to be ready for that, the surprise of her pitches,” Hunt said. “With the riseball, it’ll break but you don’t know exactly how much it’s going to break. It’s very unpredictable, you just have to be prepared to adjust.”
Hunt already committed to college for softball. She will further her career and education at Drexel in 2019-20.
“Drexel is a really good fit. Not only is it a Division I program, it’s also a really great school,” she said. “That’s what I’m really looking to get out of my softball career. It’s not necessarily about going for softball, it’s about going for a great education.”
Hunt believes the Jaguars are on the rise, even after losing All-Delcos Reva Alderman and Sam Tomasetti, who was the 2016 Daily Times Player of the Year, to graduation.
“We’re a pretty young team. We only have three seniors and two juniors, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen,” she said. “I think that will provide a lot of opportunities for us to grow together and get to know each other as a team. We lost a lot of girls last year — Sam (Tomasetti), Reva (Alderman). We lost eight or nine seniors last year, and so we basically had to start from scratch.”
Kailey Martin tripled and Annalise McLarnon had an RBI single for Penncrest.
In other Central League games:
Upper Darby 11, Marple Newtown 4 >> All-Delco Lexi Witmer finished 3-for-4 with two triples and three RBIs to power the Royals, who benefitted from four Tigers errors. Sara Sullivan contributed three base knocks.
Paige Benasutti and Brianna Clark led MN with two hits apiece.
Springfield 13, Haverford 5 >> Lauren Quinn launched a grand slam and was 3-for-4 with six RBIs for the Cougars (4-2, 4-2). Ashley Scarpato went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and Nikki DePietro smashed a two-run homer for Springfield.
Radnor 5, Lower Merion 0 >> Brooke Nicander allowed no hits over five innings to get the win.
Audrey Rosenblum and Grace Moore each tripled to highlight a four-run fifth inning for the host Raiders (4-3, 3-2). Sydney Alijan went 2-for-3 with three stolen bases.
Ridley 14, Harriton 0 >> Leigh Ann Jenkins and Anna Torrens combined to pitch a five-inning no-hitter with six strikeouts. Abby McCoy paced the Ridley bats with a single, double, homer and two RBIs. Torrens, Ashley Shanks, Julia Buckley and Sammy Williams all chipped in with two hits for the Green Raiders (4-4)
Conestoga 9, Strath Haven 1 >> Malia Calciano tripled three times, but her hot hitting wasn’t nearly enough for the Panthers.
In nonleague play:
Sacred Heart 27, Academy Park 14 >> Emily Robinson went 5-for-6 with three RBIs and five runs scored for the Lions (1-6), who missed the extra-point attempt on their final touchdown. Emily Franz chipped in with four hits, a walk, three RBIs and four runs.
Bonner & Prendergast 9, Episcopal Academy 2 >> Caroline Manfre collected two hits, including a two-run triple, as the Pandas cruised past the Churchwomen. Winning pitcher Molly McNulty and Allison Martin (three runs) also churned out two hits apiece.
In the Ches-Mont League:
Avon Grove 11, Sun Valley 7 >> All-Delco Kenzie Lewis went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Julia Skwirut was a perfect 2-for-2 for the Vanguards (5-4, 5-4). Maddy Gutowiecz added two hits and a pair of RBIs.
Top photo: Victoria Boland, left, is congratulated by Penncrest teammate Victoria Reed after scoring a run in the Lions’ 4-1 victory over Garnet Valley Wednesday. (Photo by Anne Neborak)