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McLarnon brings versatility to No. 9 spot for Penncrest

MEDIA >> Annalise McLarnon had a funny game Thursday. Not funny like a clown or amusing in any sort of way.

It was a bit odd, but in a good way for McLarnon and her Penncrest teammates.

In successive at bats, the senior second baseman homered (like a cleanup hitter would) and then bunted for a single (like a speedy bottom-of-the-order hitter would).

Annalise McLarnon showcased her power and speed from the bottom of the Penncrest batting order, belting a home run and beating out a bunt in finishing with two hits, two runs and one RBI Wednesday in the Lions’ 9-4 win over Springfield. (Photo by Anne Neborak)

Here’s the truth about McLarnon: she’s not a power hitter. She’s cool with admitting it, too. Launching bombs deep in the outfield at Barrall Park — which she accomplished Wednesday afternoon in helping Penncrest to a 9-4 Central League win over Springfield —  isn’t her thing.

What makes McLarnon a valuable player for Penncrest? Well, the four-year varsity member has shown she can do a little bit of everything with the bat. She can be a singles hitter, a gap hitter, a bunter, a slapper, or a  whatever-works-for-the-team hitter.

Against Springfield, and for most of her senior season, McLarnon has been penciled into the bottom of coach Jamie Mingis’ lineup. She batted ninth Tuesday.

It’s only natural for opposing defenses to take a nine-hole hitter lightly. Perhaps Springfield was guilty of that line of thinking when she stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the second inning, then proceeded to blast a dinger to right field. Make no mistake, the lefty-hitting McLarnon is no easy out.

So as not to be labeled a little girl who is going to swing for the fences every time, McLarnon caught the Springfield infield off-guard by executing a beautifully placed bunt that trickled up the third base line. McLarnon made it to first base with ease.

“I always have played small ball,” McLarnon said. “(Mingis) knew that (Springfield) wouldn’t be looking for the bunt at that time, so she called it.”

McLarnon was an on-base machine Wednesday. In addition to her homer and bunt single, McLarnon walked, scored two runs and stole two bases.

“This year my coach said to me, ‘What do you wanna do?’ Then I started hitting more,” said McLarnon, who will continue her education at Temple in the fall.

When she hit the big fly Wednesday, McLarnon could hardly believe it.

“It was kind of like, ‘Oh, OK. Wow. I guess that happened,’” she said, laughing.

Penncrest needed a huge game from McLarnon and the rest of the lineup after suffering back-to-back league losses. The Lions (12-2 overall, 9-2

Penncrest’s Samie Martin drops down a sacrifice bunt in Wednesday’s game against Springfield.

league) had begun the season with 11 consecutive victories.  Last week’s loss to Haverford bumped Penncrest from atop the Central League standings.

Back at home against Springfield, Penncrest quickly overcame a 2-0 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the first. Julia Eckels smashed an RBI double and Victoria Reed laced a two-run triple.

In the fourth, the Lions had another four-run frame. The big blow came off the bat of Emma Stauffer, who crushed a ball to the outfield for a two-run double.

Penncrest ace Maya Hartman settled in after a shaky start. She allowed only one hit after the third inning and finished with six strikeouts.

“When we lost last week, we knew we had been doing well,” McLarnon said. “We just had a few hiccups against teams who were also playing well. But we came in here today and we knew we had to win again. It was a great win.”

For Springfield (6-6, 6-6), senior catcher Ashley Scarpato blasted a two-run homer and Lauren Quinn chipped in with a double. Scarpato and Victoria Ciasullo each hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning to give the Cougars an early 2-0 advantage.

“I think we’re a young team that is trying to work to get better every day,” longtime Springfield coach Todd Odgers said. “I told them after the game that I thought they did a really nice job today, playing hard all the way through. I thought we played a very good game against a very good team, so I wasn’t at all disappointed with their effort. If we play hard like that, I think we’re going to come out on top most of the time.”

Elsewhere in the Central League:

Strath Haven 12, Harriton 5 >> Cecilia Monaghan and Margaret Fleming both went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the Panthers. Emma Cormican had two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored.

Radnor 3, Marple Newtown 1 >> Cate Remphrey smacked a run-scoring single in the first inning and pitcher Brooke Nicander did the rest for the Raiders (7-7, 6-6). Radnor’s senior ace pitched a four-hit complete game with five strikeouts, and helped her cause with an RBI single in the first. Sophia Royle added an RBI triple.

Garnet Valley 8, Upper Darby 6 >> Becca Halford pitched out of danger in the seventh to seal the victory for the Jaguars (8-7, 7-5). Olivia DiCampli blasted a three-run homer and Kelly McLaughlin was 3-for-4 with a double for GV.

Ridley 5, Conestoga 4 >> Heather Bogardus delivered a two-run single and Julia Buckley went 2-for-3 with two runs scored for the Green Raiders. Leigh Ann Jenkins struck out seven en route to the win.

Haverford 15, Lower Merion 6 >> Madison Lane scored four runs and banged out two hits as the first-place Fords (12-2, 12-1) cruised past the Aces. Heather Lazer struck out eight from the circle.

Top photo: Annalise McLarnon showcased her power and speed from the bottom of the Penncrest batting order, belting a home run and beating out a bunt in finishing with two hits, two runs and one RBI Wednesday in the Lions’ 9-4 win over Springfield. (Photo by Anne Neborak)



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