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STEWART: Despite loss, Wild’s effort in circle was something to admire

PLYMOUTH >> Perkiomen Valley head coach Dan McLaughlin didn’t expect Abby Wild to pitch in the District 1 Class 6A final.

Didn’t expect it. Didn’t ask her to do it. Didn’t think she could do it.

So as Wild gutted out a complete-game performance with an ailing back to an eventual 3-0 loss to Avon Grove, which denied the Vikings their second straight district title, the nine-year veteran coach had only words of endearment after.

“That was probably the best pitching performance from Abby Wild I’ve ever seen,” McLaughlin said. “Did you see how much pain she’s in? You could see her grimacing while she was warming up. I didn’t expect her to pitch today, but to see her go out and play today, pitch through pain — which she didn’t have to do — tells you what type of player she really is.

“Just for her to be able to gut it out and keep us in the game, that was a special performance that I don’t think anybody noticed because most probably didn’t even know she was hurt.”

Wild hid it well. In the circle, she looked as efficient as her 200-plus strikeout season would indicate. Out of the circle, however, everything still troubled the senior right-hander, who was suffering from back spasms after swinging awkwardly at a change-up in the late innings of Wednesday’s semifinal win at Spring-Ford. Walking, sitting, bending over all brought pain. Too much for her to hit (she was dropped out of the lineup from her usual No. 5 spot) … not too much for her to pitch.

“It didn’t hurt while I was pitching but it hurt the whole time I wasn’t,” Wild said. “But we made it this far, I didn’t want to stop now. The team has been there for me all season, I wanted to be there for them, especially now.”

McLaughlin didn’t expect much as Wild took to the circle for her opening warmup pitches.

“She couldn’t pick up the ball right by the mound,” McLaughlin said before quickly being corrected by Wild.

“I could pick it up,” Wild retorted.

“You had to squat down,” McLaughlin added.

Yet for the next seven innings, anyone watching couldn’t tell a difference in Wild’s approach. She still had some heat on her fastball, was throwing a lethal rise and was working the zone efficiently throughout the first four innings. If it wasn’t for Avon Grove’s three-run fifth inning led by a triple from Carly Raymond, a flurry of bunts and a two-run single down the line from Megan Nolan that gave the Red Devils all the runs they needed, the tone around the bench afterward may have been a little more upbeat.

But even if Wild’s effort on paper didn’t look all that terrific (for her standards at least), she was still pretty darn good. She allowed eight hits, struck out seven and walked two.

No win, but it offered Perkiomen Valley something bright as they enter the state playoffs.

Wild won’t let anything stop her.

“She did all she could, and more,” McLaughlin said, “just like always.”

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