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Underdog Garnet Valley shocks Spring-Ford, 8-6, in District 1-6A second round

ROYERSFORD >> Jaguars don’t fly. They don’t bark either.

But Wednesday afternoon, the Garnet Valley softball Jaguars did both — and had the bite to match.

Channeling their inner Eagles — the Philadelphia NFL variety — the underdog No. 15 Jaguars, after ceding an early four-run lead, were soaring in a four-run sixth inning to pull off an upset of No. 2 Spring-Ford, 8-6, in the second round of the District 1 Class 6A playoffs at Spring-Ford’s Ram Park.

Garnet Valley pitcher Becca Halford, center, hugs Jaguars assistant coach Allie White, left, after recording the final out of the Jaguars’ 8-6 District 1-6A playoff win over Spring-Ford Wednesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

In dealing Spring-Ford (17-2) just its second defeat of the season, Garnet Valley gained entrance into the district quarterfinals where it will face No. 7 Downingtown West (a 9-2 winner over Council Rock South) on Friday.

The Jaguars (15-6) may not be favored then either, but that fits with their identity.

“We’re the underdogs,” catcher Lindsey Hunt said. “This entire game we’ve been saying, ‘We’re the Eagles!’ We have a dog mask in (the dugout); we say we’re the Eagles and we felt like if they could do it, why can’t we?”

Indeed, the Jaguars have a replica of the dog mask made famous by the Eagles’ Chris Long and Lane Johnson, which Hunt copped to wearing most. It definitely worked as the junior went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored while igniting the pivotal sixth inning with a leadoff double. Leadoff hitter Diane Torregrossa was 3-for-4 with two RBI while Kelly McLaughlin (2-for-3, RBI) and Kayleigh Saboja (1-for-3, two RBI) had run-scoring hits in the sixth inning.

Garnet Valley shortstop Megan Mesaros, right, makes a diving stop and flips to second baseman Kelly McLaughlin for the final out of the fourth inning against Spring-Ford during a District 1-6A playoff game Wednesday at Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Garnet Valley sophomore pitcher Becca Halford (7 IP, 10 hits, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 K, 1 BB) didn’t mind the expectations either.

“I think it helped us,” she said. “No one expected us to win so I think it worked in our favor.”

The loss made for an abrupt end to Spring-Ford’s promising season that saw the Rams — a PIAA semifinalist a year ago — go undefeated in the Pioneer Athletic Conference (16-0) and settle for a Liberty Division championship after the PAC playoffs were cancelled due to last week’s never-ending inclement weather.

The record and seeding ignores the fact the Rams were trying to replace seven seniors, including two-time Mercury All-Area Player of the Year Megan Kern, from last year’s District 1 and PIAA semifinalist.

“Losing seven seniors from last year, we had a lot of kids that were untested and we did about as good as we could during the season, won a lot of close games,” Spring-Ford coach Tim Hughes said. “We were just young.”

Maddy Walsh went 3-for-4 with three RBI and freshman Bri Peck was 2-for-4 for Spring-Ford.

Spring-Ford’s Maddy Walsh hits an RBI single during the fourth inning against Garnet Valley during a District 1-6A playoff game Wednesday at Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Garnet Valley jumped all over Spring-Ford starter Sam Lindsay early (2-2/3 innings, 4 hits, 4 runs) and jumped out to a 3-0 first-inning lead on Hunt’s RBI double, a sacrifice fly by shortstop Megan Mesaros and a wild pitch. A fourth run in the second inning chased Lindsay (she returned and pitched a clean seventh inning) in favor of Peck (4 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 8 Ks), who had her way with the Jaguars until the sixth.

“We always have a tendency to start off slow and it took some time for us to get going,” Hughes said. “(Garnet Valley) played well. We out-hit them (10-9) and started hitting there in the end but it was right at them. They weren’t. When they were hitting the ball it was not at us and they got them in the key spots.”

Spring-Ford came alive in a three-run fourth inning that would have been worse if not for a great diving stop up the middle by GV shortstop Mesaros and a flip to second baseman McLaughlin to end a bases-loaded threat.

The Rams were right back at it in the fifth and took a 5-4 lead of Walsh’s two-run single.

The momentum was clearly Spring-Ford’s, but only for a short time.

The Jaguars finally found the measure of the hard-throwing Peck and got a leadoff double from Hunt, Mesaros was hit by a pitch for two runners on. The next two batters struck out, but McLaughlin kicked off the rally with her RBI single up the middle and Saboja gave the Jags the lead for good on a two-run single. Torregrossa capped it with another RBI single up the middle.

“We really wanted it. We had to kill that momentum on their side and bring it back on our side,” Hunt said. “We showed how much we wanted it.”

Spring-Ford put a scare in Garnet in the seventh, plating a run and having the tying run on first with one out. But Halford held her nerve and got a flyout to second and a strikeout to send the Jaguars into the quarterfinals.

Spring-Ford’s Jules Hughes makes the play from her knees to throw out Garnet Valley’s Reece Gabriele during a District 1-6A playoff game Wednesday at Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

District 1-6A Playoffs
Garnet Valley 8, Spring-Ford 6

GARNET VALLEY           SPRING-FORD

                     ab   r  h bi                       ab   r  h bi

Torregrossa   4  1   3  2    Little             0  0  0  0

Shenk            3  1   0  0    Peck            0  0  0  0

Hunt               4  2   3  1    Reid             4  0  0  0

Mesaros        2  1   0  1    Hughes        2  1  1  0

Bechtold        4  0   0  0    Tennity         0  1  0  0

Halford           3  0   0  0    DellaGrdia    3  1  1  0

McLaughlin   0  0   0  0    Walsh          4  1  3  3

Gabriele         1  0   0  0    Heine           4  2  1  0

Dicampli        0  1   0  0    Griffin           0  0  0  0

Saboja           3  0   1  2    Cortino         2  0  1  1

Valente          0  0   0  0    Ryan            3  0  0  1

                                        Lindsay        1  0  0  0

                                        Walker         0  0  0  0

                                        Bonewitz      0  0  0  0

Totals          27  8   9  7    Totals        31  6 10 5

Garnet Valley                    310 004 0 — 8
Spring-Ford                       000 320 1 — 6

E — GV 2, SF 0. 2B- Hunt 2, Torregrossa.

                                   IP     H    R   ER   BB  SO

Garnet Valley

Halford (W)                7.0   10     6      4      1     2

Spring-Ford

Lindsay                    2.2      5     4      4      1     1

Peck (L)                    4.1      4     4      4      1     8

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