ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford senior Megan Kern has always had a penchant for delivering the monstrous blast.
So while Kern’s home run in the third inning of the Rams’ District 1 Class 6A second-round contest isn’t all that surprising … it did leave a couple jaws dropped for other reasons.
Kern’s towering blast deep into the trees at Ram Park highlighted a sensational day at the plate for the St. Joseph’s commit as she went 3-for-3 with two RBI as No. 1 Spring-Ford downed Central League’s Ridley 7-0 Wednesday afternoon.
“I’ve never seen a ball hit that far,” Spring-Ford head coach Tim Hughes said of Kern’s blast, which flew past the 215-foot sign in right field and into the trees some 50 feet behind it.
Kern hadn’t either. The shortstop admitted her solo shot was her longest she’s hit in a game setting, a highlight for her day which also included a triple and four runs scored. She, along with Ashley Della Guardia (two RBI) and Sam Lindsay finished with three hits apiece for a Rams squad that jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one and never looked back, scoring one in the third followed by two-run innings in the fifth and sixth.
“This game was really important for us,” Kern said. “We were focused on getting ahead early. I feel like throughout the season we’ve been getting off to slower starts than what we have wanted and then turning it up in the end. Today we wanted to focus on hitting our pitches early and then getting runs early and keeping the intensity up all game.”
Spring-Ford finished with 12 hits in the win, which marks the third time in four years the Rams have reached the quarterfinals in the highest classification, advancing in the then-Class 4A playoffs in 2014 and 2016. Spring-Ford will face ninth-seeded Quakertown, which used a five-run eighth inning to down Central League champion Haverford 9-4, in the quarterfinals Friday at 4 p.m.
Ridley, fresh off their first playoff win in years, sees its season and the careers of Heather Bogardus, Jess Tait, Leanne Jenkins and Julia Buckley come to a close.
Buckley finished with a team-best two hits, but the Green Raiders’ bats were stymied by the effective pitching of Lindsay in the circle. After exploding for eight runs in the team’s first round-victory over Garnet Valley, Ridley only mustered four hits in the loss and was left hanging after having the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth and fifth innings.
“It’s just hard to lose this way because our bats were really hot yesterday,” Ridley first-year head coach Brooke Berger said. “We tried different approaches (against Lindsay), moving up to get it before the movement and moving back to get it after the movement, but nothing worked for us. I guess she baffled us, you could say.”
Lindsay, a sophomore who leads the Pioneer Athletic Conference with an 0.71 ERA, finished the day with three strikeouts and one walk. She worked herself out of the bases-loaded jam in the fourth by inducing a first-pitch popup to second before working herself out again in the fifth, this time a grounder to second ending Ridley’s threat.
“At practice we put all of our nonstarters on base and force ourselves to be in pressure situations,” Kern said of the Rams’ preparation for bases-loaded situations. “During a game we might get into a huddle, calm everyone down and just play it normal.”
The Rams had no such trouble with runners on base.
Kern got Spring-Ford on the board, lacing a triple to left-center field to score Morgan Maziarz to make it 1-0. Della Guardia then brought in Kern with a double to make it 2-0 after one before Kern’s blast made it 3-0. A Della Guardia single coupled with an error by the Ridley center fielder made it 4-0 before Jules Hughes’ walk with the bases loaded extended it to 5-0 in the fifth. Della Guardia’s RBI double followed by Lindsay’s sacrifice fly in the sixth gave the Rams more than enough cushion.
“My kids played hard,” said Hughes, who dedicated this game to mentor John Salamone, a former history teacher at Spring-Ford High School. “I’m proud of them. They’re happy they won but they’re ready to go. We got another game on Friday.”