FALLS TWP. – The way Council Rock North pitcher Jenna Khantzian started – and finished – yesterday’s outing at Pennsbury, it was hard to imagine the Indians righthander coming away with a win.
Khantzian and visiting Rock North did emerge with a 4-3 win over the Falcons, however, despite first- and last-inning home runs by Pennsbury outfielder Arden Rabiger.
“A two-run home run hit against your stud pitcher in the first inning is not a good way to start off an important league game,” admitted Indians head coach John Engelhardt. “And we’ve struggled with manufacturing runs against the bigger teams.
“Where I’m real proud of the girls is for staying up through seven innings.
“The girls stayed up and we got four runs in.”
Trailing 2-0 after four innings on Rabiger’s first-inning homer to centerfield with Alex Rishel on, the Rock came storming back with four runs in the top of the fifth.
CR North catcher Taylor Amazeen started the rally off with a leadoff single to right field then outfielder Maddy Tomlinson and Khantzian followed with one-out singles to center that sliced the Falcons’ advantage in half.
Tomlinson tied the score, scrambling home on an errant pickoff attempt at third base and leadoff hitter Riley Sheehy pushed the Indians (11-5, 8-4: SOL National) ahead on an RBI double to centerfield.
North senior outfielder Sabrina Crane stroked the winning hit, an RBI single over second base that scored Sheehy. And while Khantzian allowed two bombs by Rabiger, she got all the key outs when they were needed.
“Jenna is just the best pitcher,” said Crane. “She’s really mature for her age and she knows how to keep her mind on the game and take every pitch one at a time.”
“Jenna has pitched amazing all year,” added Engelhardt. “There’ve been no games where she’s allowed more than three runs. In high school softball, you score four runs you win the game.
“With Jenna, we know we have a shot in any game.
“This win allows us to know we can beat the better teams in the district.”
Additionally, the Indians get credit for doing most of their damage with two strikes. Khantzian faced a 1-2 count when she pushed the first run across with a single to center and Sheehy was looking at an 0-2 count when she belted an RBI double.
“With two strikes, you’re not looking for your pitch; you need to go up there and protect and fight off any pitch that might not be your pitch so you can fight for another day.
“Our girls know that, with two strikes, their approach has to change and we have to put our bat on the ball.
“And that worked out well today.”
North was coming off Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Neshaminy in which it left too many runners on base including bases-loaded in the sixth. In this game, the Indians stranded just three runners and got clutch hits when they were needed.
“We definitely feed off momentum so once one person gets a hit it sparks everyone up and gets our energy flowing.
“We were just really pumped up; we were ready to go – get some hits, score some runs.”
Indeed. Fifth-inning hits by Tomlinson, Khantzian and Sheehy came in consecutive at bats though none was more significant than the double by Sheehy. For one, it was the Rock’s only extra-base hit in the battle and it also gave the visitor’s their first lead in the contest.
“She is awesome at the plate – just attacks every ball,” stated Crane. She’s been coming up clutch every single game.”
“She’s a really good asset to the team.
“She just transferred here from Minnesota and I couldn’t be happier that she’s here. I really bond with her in the outfield.
Starting the week ranked number 15 in District One, North should move up into the top 12 with the win over the Falcons. That should ensure the Indians a first-round bye and a higher seed in the upcoming D-1 Class 6A Softball Tournament.
On the other hand, Pennsbury (11-6, 7-4), which started the week ranked fifth in District One, will drop down in the standings after three consecutive losses, all suffered at the hand of league foes. The Falcons lost 1-0 to league-leading Neshaminy on Monday, May 8 and 5-2 to CR South Wednesday, May 10.
“I think if we work together as a team, we can recover from this,” stated Rabiger. “We can hit, we can field and we have a good pitcher. If we put all three of those things together, we’ll definitely come back.”
For the catcher turned outfielder, this was the first time in Rabiger’s varsity career that she hit two runs in a single game. She hit one last season and these two were her first this year.
With a runner on in the first inning, she stroked a 3-2 pitch over the fence for a two-run bomb in straightaway center and in the last, she hit a solo shot just under the scoreboard in left-center.
“I was definitely seeing the ball well today,” stated Rabiger. “I knew where she was going to be throwing the ball so I knew what to expect.”
Aside from Arden’s hits however, Pennsbury couldn’t come up with the clutch hits when they were needed. The Falcons left a pair of runners stranded in both the fourth and the sixth innings including runners at second and third with only one out in the fourth.
Pennsbury left a total of eight runners stranded on base.
The Falcons get another shot at a league win Monday at Harry S Truman.
NOTES: Khantzian leads the SOL National Conference with 117 strikeouts. Crane was injured sliding into second base in the fifth inning. Sheehy took her place in centerfield and Elena Calibeo finished up in right.
Council Rock North 4, Pennsbury 3
(May 12 at Pennsbury)
CR NORTH 000 040 0 – 4 9 0
PENNSBURY 200 000 1 – 3 7 0
WP – Jenna Khantzian 7IP, 3R, 7H, 1BB, 5SO, 2HB; LP – Alyssa Hileman 7IP, 4R, 9H, 0BB, 7SO, 2HB.
MULTIPLE HITS: CRN – Khantzian 2-for-3, Sabrina Crane 2-for-3, Taylor Briggs 2-for-3; P – Arden Rabiger 2-for-4, Allison Rose 2-for-3.
EXTRA-BASE HITS: CRN – Riley Sheey 2B; P – Rabiger HR (2).
RBI: CRN – Sheehy, Crane, Khantzian; P – Rabiger 3.
RUNS: CRN – Sheehy, Taylor Amazeen, Tomlinson, Khantzian; P – Alex Rishel, Rabiger 2.