PHILADELPHIA >> Emily Groarke had an eventful afternoon on Tuesday.
The rising senior at North Penn caught, played center field and pitched, all in one game as the Suburban One League/Bicentennial Athleic League softball team went 1-1 in its first day of competition at the Carpenter Cup held in FDR Park. Groarke also collected two hits in the team’s second game, a 7-1 setback to Tri-Cape.
By nature, the Carpenter Cup requires versatile players and while Groarke hadn’t pitched much in the last year or caught many innings, she proved she can fit in anywhere on a softball field.
“I haven’t pitched a whole lot since last year so it felt good to get back out there,” Groarke said. “I liked it, I’m fine going wherever the team needs me and I enjoyed all of them. Every position brings a different perspective and it makes you see the game in a different light.”
SOL/BAL was undone by a five-run second inning from Tri-Cape where the team, made up of players from New Jersey, fouled off 20 combined pitches, sent 11 hitters to the plate, collected four hits and took advantage of two SOL/BAL errors. Starting pitcher Ally Shlee also had SOL/BAL off-balance, allowing just two hits in her four innings, one of them Groarke’s leadoff infield single.
CB West pitcher Angelina Sherba, a rising senior, was the only other SOL/BAL player to collect multiple hits, going 2-for-2 in her only at-bats.
“There’s nothing to lose here so I tried to go out and put my heart out there and see what happens,” Sherba said. “It wasn’t a good outcome but I felt like I had a really good game and I was happy with that.”
The team advanced into the winner’s bracket with a forfeit win over Mid-Penn due to a roster error. Despite having a free pass into the winner’s bracket, SOL/BAL coach Heather Boyer wanted to play the game and didn’t tell her players the outcome didn’t matter.
Mid-Penn ended up winning 4-3, but the SOL/BAL players’ expressions changed from disappointment to confusion to excitement in a manner of moments once Boyer let them know the situation.
“We wanted the game to be as game-like as possible and if you have that cushion under you of it doesn’t really matter and we might not be able to see everything we needed to see under pressure situations,” Boyer, also the head coach at Upper Dublin, said. “Part of this tournament for some of these kids is dealing with that pressure situation. Runner in scoring position, two outs, can you get that clutch base hit? I wanted to see who could connect and make that big play when we needed it.”
SOL/BAL’s bats finally came around in the fifth inning after Maddie Muth (Upper Dublin) hit a two-out single. Macey Segal (Wissahickon) reached on an error before Sherba singled to load the bases and turn the lineup over to Groarke.
Groarke, who spent her first two high school seasons at Dock, came up with the hit off Brianna Young to single home Casey Bradley (MaST Charter), who had come on to run for Muth.
A strikeout ended the frame and SOL/BAL’s best chance of the afternoon as Young followed Shlee’s lead and shut down the SOL/BAL side in the next two innings.
“It was good for us to finally come together in a game setting,” Groarke said. “Even with the first game being a forfeit and the result here, it was still good for us.”
Boyer said there’s a lot to like about this group, but one thing they needed to improve on was being vocal.
Groarke said she decided to play for the SOL/BAL team because North Penn coach Rick Torresani is an assistant, teammate Britany Moyer was on the roster and it was a chance to play some extra softball in between weekend tournaments with her North Penn Eclipse travel team.
Sherba, who really travels for her travel ball as part of the Virginia Glory, also wanted to see what the Carpenter Cup had to offer.
“I wasn’t able to do it last year because of travel tournaments but my coaches kept telling me to try out and I decided why not see what it was about,” Sherba said. “I decided to do it just for fun. You’re playing with girls you don’t know or may know from going up against them, but you’re all just going out there to have fun.”
SOL/BAL returns Wednesday morning where it will face Chester County at 9 a.m. with the winner advancing and the losing team eliminated.
“Now you play to win every inning which will hopefully get you to the next game,” Boyer said. “We don’t want to look beyond because there is no ‘if this, then that’ it’s either win and move on or lose and go home.”
Top Photo: SOL/BAL’s Emily Groarke at bat against Tri-Cape during Carpenter Cup at FDR Park in Philadelphia on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)