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Lindsay, error-free defense send Spring-Ford past Quakertown, into district semis

ROYERSFORD >> Mix an errorless defense and a pitcher who’s dealing and the outcome is generally predictable.

Use Spring-Ford’s effort Friday in the District 1 Class 6A quarterfinals as an example.

Sophomore pitcher Sam Lindsay went the full seven, throwing a two-hit shutout while the defense backed her up with an error-free day as No. 1 Spring-Ford downed No. 9 Quakertown 4-0 to clinch a PIAA playoff berth for the first time in three years.

“It’s awesome,” Lindsay said of the team’s state playoff berth and their advancement into the district semifinals. “I can’t wait, I could play the next game right now.”

She did enough Friday.

Lindsay cruised through the vaunted Quakertown lineup in her complete-game effort, needing only 70 pitches (52 for strikes) in picking up the win. The righthander struck out four and walked one while relying on a tremendous defensive effort behind her to stymie a Panthers squad that came into the quarterfinals averaging nearly 11 runs per game.

Spring-Ford’s Megan Kern slides home safely after Maggie McConney’s safety squeeze in the fifth. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

“I knew they (Quakertown) were hot the other day against Haverford so I knew they were going to hit the ball,” Lindsay said. “I wanted them to put the ball in play because I know my defense behind me will field anything that’s hit their way.”

“I’m proud of my kids,” Spring-Ford head coach Tim Hughes said. “They played good defense against a very good team that is very well coached. We’re trying to continue to do the right things at the right time and take what the opposing team gives us.”

Spring-Ford, which earned its first PIAA berth since 2014, will face the winner of North Penn and Perkiomen Valley in the semifinals Tuesday at 4 p.m. Quakertown, shut out for the first time this season, falls into the playback round with the PIAA hopes still in reach.

“We were hitting it, but we were hitting it right at them. We had to get it between them,” Quakertown head coach Rich Scott said. “Unfortunately we don’t see that type of pitching every day and we need to see more of that so that we can adjust sooner. We didn’t adjust quick enough today. She’s (Lindsay) a good pitcher and that’s a great team. For us to play it at 4-0, I’m happy for the girls but I know we could have done better.”

Quakertown’s Nikki Vanelli is thrown out as she slides into third. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

Quakertown committed three errors in the field, all coming in the critical third inning that saw the Rams pull ahead with a 2-0 lead … and for good. Shortstop Megan Kern started the inning with a flare down the left-field line for a double before she was moved over to third on a grounder from third baseman Maggie McConney that was booted by the Panther shortstop. Kern then scored two pitches later after the Quakertown catcher tried to catch her off third, the throw bouncing off the third baseman and near the fence in foul territory. The throw home sailed wide, allowing McConney to advance to third. She was then brought home by an Ashley Della Guardia RBI groundout to make it 2-0.

Kern finished the game a home run shy of the cycle, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored. She scored again in the fifth inning off a McConney safety squeeze to make it 4-0.

It provided more than enough cushion for Lindsay, who worked the inning in order in four of the seven innings, her changeup that froze a Quakertown batter in the fourth to end the inning a highlight. She faced some trouble in the top of the seventh after allowing a leadoff double to Nikki Vanelli and hitting Lauren Beal at the next at bat. However, she settled down, getting the next batter to ground out into a fielder’s choice — Kern throwing to McConney at third to get the lead runner — before a strikeout and groundout to second ended it.

“We’re going to enjoy this for a little bit,” Lindsay said, “but we’re going to be right back to work. We have more we want to accomplish.”

NOTES >> Maddie Cortino tripled in the win with Maddie Little (RBI) and Della Guardia each picking up hits. … Quakertown’s Tori Caputo allowed six hits and two earned while walking three in taking the loss.

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