ASTON—It had been nearly 30 years since Unionville last won a softball championship of any kind, going all the way back to 1991 when the Indians were champs of the old Southern Chester County League. That long drought ended Thursday afternoon at MapleZone Sports Village as Unionville (12-9) topped Rustin (11-10) by a score of 8-6 in a one-game playoff for the crown.
“This is all about those girls,” said Unionville coach Carly DiVirgilio, choking back some tears. “I came in here last year two days before the season when the coach walked out on them, and they just trusted me. We didn’t win much last year, but this year they just came back, worked hard, and here we are American division champs”
Rustin took the early lead, taking advantage of some wildness from Unionville starter Madeline Frich. Though Frich recorded strikeouts for all three outs in the bottom half of the first, the Golden Knights pushed a run across with a hit batsman and three walks. Frich settled in for the next few innings, not allowing a hit until the fifth.
Unionville, despite getting runners in scoring position in the first and the third, couldn’t get over the hump until the fourth. But when they finally struck, they hit hard.
Sydney Horan led off the inning and got things going in a big way, launching a home run over the right field fence. The Indians got base hits from the next three hitters, singles from Amanda and Danu Panati, and a triple from Jan Dreher, before the first out of the inning was recorded.
Flipping the line-up over. Analise Griffiths, got things going again by beating out an infield single. Maddie Boorse followed with a single of her own, with both runners moving up a base on a fly ball to right from Anna Deshaies. Grace Salisbury made sure it wasn’t a wasted opportunity, delivering an single to knock in both runners. All of a sudden, the Indians were up 6-1.
“We had more energy in that inning than we’ve had maybe all year,” said Griffiths, a junior. “This whole season has been amazing. We’ve done so much better here this year. We’re so much better than just two years ago. Knowing we can win and learning how to win is going to mean everything going forward.”
The Knights answered back with a big inning of their own. In the bottom of the fifth, Rustin batted around and put up five runs, highlighted by a 2RBI double from Nicole Inforzat and a triple from Maddie Fife, and singles from Sami LaRosa, Ava Dobbs, Elena Ciarrocchi and Mallory Hardwick.
“Before that inning, I said, ‘hey, you’ve got to turn this thing around because I can’t do it for you,” said Rustin coach Bruce Dudley. “You know where she’s pitching, we’ve got to start taking her to right field. You saw the way they all came out and started shooting the gaps.”
Once the fifth run crossed the plate and the game was tied at 6-6, DiVirgilio brought in Horan to relieve, and the lefthander went into shutdown mode, allowing just two base hits the rest of the way.
“She came in and got home run to start our offense, then the job she did in the circle was just amazing,” said DiVirgillio. “She’s just a freshman, and she just came in and shut them down.”
Griffiths (4 for 4, 2R, RBI) did her job at lead-off in the top of the sixth, notching her third infield single of the afternoon. After Deshaies worked a one-out walk, Horan stepped up to the plate and ripped a double to center to score both runners and give the Indians the last runs they would need and an 8-6 advantage.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to us,” said Griffiths. “There’s girls over there crying, our coach is crying. It feels great to close out the year winning the division title. It’s been a long time for Unionville and I’m so happy I got to be a part of it. And I think we’re just going to be better next year.”
For Rustin, the division title got away, but the Knights can’t dwell on it. This Monday, they will have to step back out on the field for the first round of the District 1, Class 5A tourney, where they will enter as the No. 11 seed.
“I reminded the girls that they still have another game to play,” said Dudley. “Hats off and congratulations to Unionville, but we have to get ready for districts now. Our season isn’t over.”
Unionville 8 Rustin 6
Unionville AB R H RBI Rustin AB R H RBI
Griffiths—CF 4 2 4 1 Hardwick—1B 3 2 2 0
Boorse—LF 4 1 1 0 Inforzato—SS 4 1 1 2
Deshaies—SS 2 1 0 0 Fife—C 3 1 1 1
Salisbury—C 4 0 1 2 Geissler—3B 4 0 0 0
Horan—DP/P 4 1 2 3 LaRosa—LF 2 1 1 1
A Panati—2B 4 1 2 0 McCarthy—2 0 0 1
D Panati—3B 2 1 1 0 Bassick—2B 2 0 0 0
Dreher—1B 4 1 2 2 Ciarrocchi—DP 2 0 1 1
Horne—RF 4 0 0 0 Dobbs—CF 3 1 1 0
Frich—FX/P 0 0 0 0 Bitner—FX/RF 0 0 0 0
Totals 32 8 13 8 Totals 27 6 7 6
HR—Horan 3B—Fife, Dreher 2B—Horan, Hardwick, Inforzato
Unionville 0 0 0 6 0 2 0—8
WC Rustin 1 0 0 0 5 0 0—6
Unionville IP R H BB K
Frich 4.1 6 5 4 7
Horan (W) 2.2 0 2 2 3
McCarthy (L) 7 8 12 4 2
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