FRANCONIA >> It took a little while to get going, but North Penn has begun to hit its stride, especially at the plate. After starting the season 0-2, the Knights had won five straight games coming into Thursday’s matchup with Souderton and have looked unstoppable.
During that stretch their bats had been hot, averaging 10.2 runs per game and this one was no different. North Penn got out to an early lead and never looked back on its way to a 13-1 five-inning win, the Knights’ sixth straight.
“We’ve really been hitting the ball lately and we kept that up today,” said North Penn head coach Rick Torresani. “If we can continue to get good pitching and play good defense behind it, with the way we’re hitting the ball, we’re going to be okay going forward.”
Early on, the Knights (6-2, 4-0 Suburban One League Continental) were having moderate success against Souderton ace Alex Scheeler, but were still waiting for that breakthrough inning.
In the first, they managed one unearned run off an error by the Indians (3-4, 1-3) at second base. The second inning saw the Knights add three more runs to their lead, but it wasn’t until the third that the offense really exploded.
“We just wanted to put it in play against her (Scheeler) and in that third inning that’s what you saw,” said Torresani. “She (Scheeler) likes to throw that curveball outside and in the past, we’ve been trying to pull the ball and it’s hurt us. Today we wanted to shoot the ball to right and you saw that work today for us.”
In that inning they managed eight hits — three for extra bases, including a two-run homer from Elia Namey, and chased Scheeler from the game after just 2 1/3 innings.
Another big part of the Knights’ offensive onslaught came from a somewhat unlikely source, as nine-hole hitter Jordan Pietrzykoski finished 3-for-3 on the afternoon with two RBIs and two doubles.
It’s somewhat unlikely because while most teams do not expect that kind of production from the back end of the lineup, that’s sort of been par for the course for her lately.
“We thought about moving her up in the lineup but she’s getting up with runners on so often that we don’t want to mess with it,” said Torresani. “Right now the best thing we can do is keep letting her do her thing.”
This was an uncharacteristic outing from Scheeler on the mound. She’s been so good for the Indians over the years that to see a line like this from her is uncommon. However, the combination of her heavy workload as of late and the powerful Knights lineup was a perfect storm.
This is the third straight day that Scheeler has taken the mound, and her coach said that probably had something to do with her getting chased early.
“This is her third game in three days,” said Souderton head coach Liz Parkins. “With all that work I think her stamina may have been a little but in question, but we weren’t fielding well behind her and that added to it all.”
This is a young Souderton team with just one senior on the roster, so the Indians will learn from this game and look to rebound going forward.
For North Penn, if it can continue to hit like this it will be tough to beat. In addition to that, the pitching of ace Bri Battavio could end up being the difference maker as the season moves forward. The senior Monmouth commit was as sharp as she’s been all season long, giving up just two hits and striking out four in five innings as she starts to get to mid-season form.
“I felt great out there today,” said Battavio. “I just have to hit my spots and my pitches. Me and coach have worked really hard on getting the spins right and placing my pitches and today that was working.”
North Penn is trending in the right direction, and after some early season hiccups it looks to be one of the teams challenging for the highly competitive SOL Continental as the season progresses.
North Penn 13, Souderton 1 (5)
North Penn 138 10 — 13 11 1
Souderton 000 10 — 1 2 4
WP: Bri Battavio 5 IP 1 R 1 ER 2 H 4 SO 2 BB.
LP: Alex Scheeler 2.1 IP 8 R 6 ER 8 H 4 SO 0 BB.
2B: NP-Jordan Pietrzykoski 2, Emily Groarke; S-Ali Gould; HR: NP-Elia Namey.
North Penn: Groarke 2-4, RBI; Pietrzykoski 3-3, 3 RBI; Victoria Juckniewitz 2-3, 2 SB.