DOWNINGTOWN >> Bishop Shanahan’s softball team has all the ingredients necessary to be successful in the district playoffs.
The Eagles go after their opponents with a dominating pitcher in sophomore Devon Miller plus a staunch offense throughout the lineup and a defense that makes all the plays, too. All those facets were on display Friday as the second-seeded Eagles eliminated No. 7 Sun Valley from the District 1 Class 5A playoffs, 10-0.
The Eagles (16-6) advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals and will host Ches-Mont National rival West Chester Henderson, the No. 3 seed.
“I have been mixing up a lot,” said Miller, who threw a two-hit shutout that included 12 strikeouts and no walks. “That’s what I did this game. I am going to have to mix it up more.”
Miller, veteran coach Ron Savastio and the rest of the Eagles realize there are a lot of talented players and teams lurking on the horizon. So the Eagles know they will have to continue to play at the top of their game against all foes as they advance in the postseason playoffs.
Sun Valley, which owned a piece of the Ches-Mont American Division title, saw its season come to a close at 13-9 overall. But coach Pat Rafferty pointed out that the Vanguards will be returning all regular players next season, except for one senior. Rafferty was also impressed with the way the Eagles hit the ball for extra bases against Sun Valley pitcher Maddie Gutowiecz.
The Eagles gave Miller plenty of support by scoring single runs in each of the first three innings and then finishing off the victory with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and three more in the sixth.
Bishop Shanahan unleashed a 17-hit assault that included three home runs and two doubles. Every Eagle starter had at least one hit on the day.
Sophomore left fielder Alexa Peterson belted a pair of home runs while ending up 3-for-4 with five runs batted in and two runs scored. Miller helped herself by going 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs.
Peterson ripped a solo home run with one out in the second inning over the left field fence. Peterson came back with a three-run homer to highlight the four-run, fifth-inning rally. Miller nailed a solo homer over the center field fence with one out in the third inning.
Junior catcher Katy Newton, Shanahan’s leadoff batter, had another banner day by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Newton, a left-handed batter, executed three perfect bunts and then used her fleet feet to beat them out for singles.
“We know how important the bunting game is,” said Savastio. “We have a couple girls I depend on to bunt. The leadoff girl (Newton) is really special. She was a right-handed batter all her life. She went home and practiced.”
Savastio and the Eagles have been through the state playoff wars before so that is why they feel confident in their ability to make another deep run
“We really ran into a buzzsaw,” said Rafferty. “She (Miller) is fantastic. We practiced on our bunting game, but we could not get them down on their field. She makes it very difficult.”
Junior center fielder Ann Weyand and junior first baseman Catherine McAllister had two-hit outings for the Eagles. Senior second baseman Alexandra Crocetti picked up a two-out double on a bad bounce in left field during the second inning. Junior right fielder Miranda Bedics had a sacrifice bunt in the first and added a single and run scored in the sixth.
Defensively, Bishop Shanahan got some good plays from senior third baseman Marley Weston and Newton handling bunts in front of the plate. Sun Valley countered with some solid glove work from shortstop Amy Parker while right fielder Devlin O’Connor, who is also the leadoff batter, snagged a couple of line drives.
Top photo: Bishop Shanahan’s Alexa Peterson strokes a three-run home run against Sun Valley Friday. The game ended in six innings with a Eagles 10-0 victory. (Photo by Pete Bannan – Digital First Media)