PROSPECT PARK >> Over two decades, Interboro’s softball team has won countless Del Val League championships and qualified for the District 1 playoffs nearly every season.
Like death and taxes, the chances of Interboro fielding a good squad every year is a guarantee. With Chuck Pedrick at the helm, the Bucs have been the gold standard of Delco softball, year in and year out.
But every season, it seems, Pedrick’s teams would fall short of reaching their potential. Never before did the Bucs advance beyond the second round of districts.
Friday afternoon, fourth-seeded Interboro defeated No. 12 Springfield, 8-3, in a Class 5A district quarterfinal behind Bridget Bailey’s seven strikeouts and Amber Seamen’s 3-for-4 performance at the plate. With the victory, the Bucs (16-6) also clinched a berth in next month’s PIAA tournament.
The Bucs host No. 8 Great Valley, which disposed of top-seeded Penncrest, in the semifinal round Tuesday.
“It feels so good, too. Not only for us, but for Ped (Pedrick) and Coach (Dave) Wilson and Mr. (Mike) Martin,” said Seamen, an All-Delco catcher and Cabrini recruit. “It’s been awesome. They’ve never had it before, so it feels good to give it to them.”
Junior second baseman Sam Bellano feels the same way.
“I think we deserve this because of our great coaches and for how hard we’ve worked for everything,” she said. “We wanted it all year and we knew we could be this good.”
Interboro certainly has maintained its winning tradition in 2017, but this team will be remembered as one of Pedrick’s very best.
“It’s definitely all really new,” Bailey said. “When I walk into class, you hear people say congrats on the softball team. That really doesn’t happen a lot, but it should more often. They (the coaches) deserve everything and they are the reason we play this well.”
The Bucs were at their best in a rematch against the Cougars. In a meeting late in the regular season, the Bucs shut out the Cougars with ease. The Bucs avenged a late-season defeat to Marple Newtown in the first round of the tournament, giving them a 2-0 record against Central League foes in the playoffs.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) May 26, 2017
“It was easier that we knew their pitcher, but it was the same situation as when we faced Marple (Newtown). They came to try and beat us, to get revenge,” Bellano said. “They wanted to come here to kick our butts, basically. But I felt like, since we knew the pitcher and we just played them last week, it helped us out a little.”
Bellano made an outstanding relay throw to nab Ashley Scarpato attempting to go from first to third on a single in the fourth inning. It was one of a handful of rallies the Bucs managed to thwart.
“I heard eight different people yelling,” Bellano said, “and then I heard Krista, our hitting coach, say ‘three!’ So I thought, I’m going to trust her; I
trusted her, so I’m just going to throw it.”
The Bucs were clinging to a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the sixth, when they sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored six runs. Kate Patton and Seamen each had a two-run single, while Haley Barrett and Hailey Wittorf collected RBI base knocks.
Springfield had ample scoring opportunities, but failed to deliver until the seventh inning. Scarpato smashed a two-run triple and Victoria Ciasullo doubled home a run to cut Interboro’s lead to 8-3. For the Cougars, though, it was too little, too late. They left nine runners on base and squandered a bases-loaded, one-out chance in the fifth.
“We had a little bit of a rocky start, but as we went on we came together and got better,” Scarpato said of the Cougars’ season as a hole. Scarpato was a freshman when Springfield captured the PIAA Class 3A championship in 2014. Upon graduation, she will enlist in the Army.
“I’ve always wanted to do it, so I did it,” Scarpato said. “I leave in July. I go for basic training for 10 weeks, then go to Texas for my job training.”
Interboro fired the opening salvo in the first inning when Barb Carosi drove in Kate Patton with a sacrifice fly. Lily Bonner’s RBI single in the third made it 2-0 Interboro.
While Springfield made Bailey work from the circle, the junior ace kept her cool. She scattered 11 hits, but walked only one.
“It’s mainly Ped helping me through it,” Bailey said. “He’s the person I look to every single time. He kind of tells me to take a deep breath. So I stand out there, behind the mound, take a deep breath and let it all out. I pretend that there is no one there, no one watching, and try my best to get (the hitter) out.”
More often than not this season, Bailey has been successful at doing precisely that — getting big outs.
Top photo: Interboro’s Barb Carosi, left, and Hailey Wittorf congratulate Bri Mathis, right, after she scored a run Friday in the Bucs’ 8-3 win over Springfield in a District 1 Class 5A quarterfinal. (Photo by Anne Neborak).