SPRINGFIELD >> Springfield found out all it needed to about first-round PIAA District 1-5A playoff foe Mount Saint Joseph in the first inning Wednesday.
After taking a two-run lead in the top of the first, the Cougars watched the Mount bunt its way to a pair of runs to tie the game.
From there on, the Cougars knew what they had to do.
With pitcher Jenna Casasanto in command, the Cougars squeezed their infield in, eliminated the bunt and let Casasanto do the rest.
The right-hander responded with a three-hitter and the Cougars snapped a tie with two runs in the fifth and another in the sixth to emerge with a 5-2 victory that propelled Springfield into Friday’s quarterfinals against Interboro, which downed Marple Newtown, 5-2.
“I think both pitchers did a good job settling in after the first inning,” Cougars coach Todd Odgers said. “We found ourselves in the fifth and sixth innings, and those runs were the difference in the game.”
“I think we realized what we had to do after the first inning,” echoed Casasanto. “We realized the infield had to come in and I had to jam them.”
The Cougars got on the board in the top of the first when both Casasanto and Caitlin Chambers reached on infield singles and ultimately scored on Ashley Scarpato’s sacrifice fly and Sheridan Hedrick’s single.
The Mount answered when Julie Burns and Mara Fuchs drove in runs in the home first.
But from that point on the Mount would not dent Casasanto, and while the Cougars didn’t fare much better against Mount freshman starter Paige Parisi, they finally broke through in the fifth when Scarpato doubled home a run and Victoria Ciasullo singled home another.
And the Mount had no response.
“Both pitchers were effective,” said Mount head coach Bill Thompson. “After that first inning they both got into a groove and shut both teams down until they broke through in the fifth and sixth.”
Chambers drew a bases-loaded walk to add some insurance in the sixth, and the Cougars were on to the quarters.
“We played both Interboro and Marple during the season and we had some success against both,” Odgers said. “I think we’re capable of beating either one.”
Meanwhile, Thompson turned his attention to the future.
“This is our second year trying to build up this program,” he said. “We were fifth in the district last year, so the program is doing pretty well.
“(Parisi) is a freshman, so I would think the program’s going to be competitive the next couple of years.”
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 2
Springfield 200 021 0 – 5
Mt.St. Joseph 200 000 0 – 2
WP – Jenna Casasanto
LP – Paige Parisi
2B – Ashley Scarpato
SB – Casasanto; Chambers (2).