CHELTENHAM >> Marisa Browne had a lot of people talking Wednesday afternoon.
What she had everyone talking, or more accurately asking about, was just how many batters the Archbishop Wood pitcher had struck out. It was a question that had to keep getting asked because the number just kept going up.
After allowing a hit to the first two Franklin Towne Charter batters she faced, Browne was basically untouchable.
The junior right-hander got back-to-back strikeouts to end the first inning and just kept going from there. By the time the game ended, with a strikeout of course, she had rung up 18 hitters without allowing another hit as the Vikings claimed a 7-0 win in the District 12-5A title game at Arcadia’s Blankley Field.
“It was just my location,” Browne said. “I was a little shaky with my pitches at first but once I got the location and speed down, I was good to go.”
Browne simply baffled the Franklin Towne hitters, striking out seven straight batters between the first and third innings and eight straight from the fourth through the sixth. The FTC hitters certainly helped the cause by swinging at plenty of Browne’s offerings but it was the righty putting them in the right spots and getting plenty of movement that led to a lot of whiffs.
In fact, 16 of her 18 strikeouts were of the swinging variety and Browne used the minimum nine pitches to strike out the side in the fourth and again in the fifth inning.
After falling to Lansdale Catholic in the PCL quarterfinals on May 17, the Vikings had to wait a week to see if their season would even continue, then spent a rain-filled week just practicing to prepare for the District title game.
While they hadn’t played together in two weeks, most of the team’s players play travel ball. That number includes Browne, who pitches for the Delco Chaos and she had thrown just this weekend.
“My pitches were moving today, the speed was good, everything kind of came together,” Browne said. “My rise ball and screwball were really on today. After the first inning I felt like I really got into a groove.”
Browne felt she pitched well this weekend and added she’s been working on some things mechanically with her pitching. While the junior said she wasn’t her sharpest on Wednesday, it was hard to argue with the results.
She also got some early help from the offense and from her defense. After the first two Franklin Towne hitters had reached and advanced on a wild pitch, shortstop Kaylee Burke hit a ground up the third base line.
Wood third baseman Kyle Guerrera froze the lead runner then looked to first.
“I saw the runner going down to first, she was already halfway there and I didn’t really have a chance,” Guerrera said. “I just did things on instinct and pump-faked.”
The fake was convincing enough to get the lead runner moving off third, to which Guerrera gave chase and picked up an out when the runner ran well out of the base paths for the first out of the inning. Browne then rang up the next two swinging and the Vikings were on their way.
For Wood, the big question coming in to the game was how the offense would respond after the layoff. It didn’t take long for the Vikings to answer as the first six hitters reached base with five of them coming around to score.
“We’ve been working hard for the past week,” Wood coach Jackie Ecker said. “We’ve really been working on hitting and seeing the ball better and not leaving runners on base. We knew our defense and pitching would take over this game, but it was good to get runs early.”
Jules Donchez and Taylor Carter singled to start the game for Wood, which batted first as the away team, with Donchez scoring early on wild pitch. After Guerrera was hit by a pitch, Gianna Lancelotti gave Wood all the scoring it would need with a two-run double.
An error on a bunt by Cara Coughlin allowed Lancellotti and Browne, who had walked, to come home and score for a 5-0 lead.
The Vikings added a second inning run on an RBI double by Guerrera and pinch-hitter Sam Link drove in Coughlin with a single in the fifth inning.
“That was definitely a confidence booster,” Guerrera said. “I think all the girls after the last game were just waiting their comeback chance and we took it today. We had a lot of practice, hard work and plenty of hitting.”
Franklin Towne pitcher Michelle Slaughter threw a good game, striking out seven Wood hitters, but the big first inning was too much to overcome, especially with the way Browne was pitching.
Browne wasn’t sure if the strikeout number was a career-high but added that it “probably is.” Regardless, it was just the kind of bounce-back showing she and her teammates needed after the early exit in the PCL tournament and it put the Vikings on the right path going into states next week.
Even while she was mowing down hitters and people kept asking how many that last one was, Browne wasn’t getting too caught up in the moment.
“You sort of know it, but you just have to concentrate on what you’re doing,” Browne said. “Getting a lot of strikeouts like that feels good, so I’m definitely ready for the next game.”
ARCHBISHOP WOOD 7, FRANKLIN TOWNE CHARTER 0
Archbishop Wood 510 010 0 – 7 9 0
Franklin Towne Charter 000 000 000 – 0 2 3
WP: Marisa Browne. LP: Michelle Slaughter. SO-BB: Browne 18-0, Slaughter 7-4
2B: Gianna Lancellotti (AW), Kylee Guerrera (AW). RBI: AW – Lancellotti 2, Guerrera, Sam Link. Multiple hits: AW – Guerrera 2-2.
Top Photo: Archbishop Wood’s Marisa Browne winds up for a pitch during the District 12-5A final against Franklin Towne Charter on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. (Rachel Wisniewski/For Digital First Media)