ABINGTON >> Coming off a lopsided loss to conference rival William Tennent on Thursday, Abington’s softball team was looking for any kind of boost it could get against visiting Upper Dublin on Friday.
The Galloping Ghosts got a whole lot of boost from a couple of unexpected players, one a brand-new face, another making a surprise return and a third stepping up when called upon. All that gave Abington all the lift it would need and the runs just kept coming.
Sparked up and down the lineup, Abington topped the Flying Cardinals 11-3 in a nonleague tilt and head into a big week feeling a little more confident.
“It’s really going to help our team,” Ghosts senior Jamie Gosselin said. “It will boost our self-esteem up and help us realize that we can do this and we’ve got this. It’s a big help.”
Not a lot of good came out of Thursday’s loss, but one of those few silver linings was that Gosselin was cleared to come back to the game. After tearing the ACL in her left knee back in October, the senior put in a lot of long hours with Abington trainer Bill Schmidt and got the go-ahead to play on Thursday.
Gosselin isn’t able to play in the field yet and still wears a bulky brace on her leg, but she can hit so Abington coach Ellie White put the senior in as the No. 2 hitter and designated player. Gosselin had an infield hit, walked and got thrown out on a grounder to third in her first at-bat that the senior had no doubt she would have beat out if fully healthy.
White said she batted Gosselin second just so the senior didn’t feel the need to overdo it as a leadoff hitter trying to get on base starting the game. Gosselin said she wasn’t nervous about her knee and felt great getting back out there with her teammates.
“We’ve missed Jamie,” White said. “She’s a captain and just to have her back in the batter’s box, it was awesome. I worry about it, but I know it was something she needed to do.”
Abington plated a run in the bottom of the first on a sac fly by Olivia Bernstein, then added to the lead when senior pitcher Nikki Ray ripped a two-run double an inning later. Starting off that rally was No. 8 hitter Alyssa Goodson, a sophomore call-up from the JV squad in her first varsity game.
Goodson, who got a text Friday morning telling her she was getting the call-up, had a debut to remember going 4-for-4 at the plate, driving in a pair of runs in the third and scoring run in the second. Abington has been searching for some consistency in the lineup and Goodson, who also made a great diving catch in left along with freshman Brooke Clewell in right offered some on Friday.
“I just wanted to show that I could play,” Goodson said. “I was really excited but then nervous because I didn’t want to disappoint anybody. The older players said make sure to keep everything in front, don’t let any balls go behind you and you should be good.”
Ray, an all-conference pitcher, wasn’t herself in the circle, walking five batters in two-plus innings and allowing two runs to score on wild pitches in the third, cutting the lead to 3-2. Abington opted to lift her for sophomore Tori Brandenberg in that third inning with Ray taking Brandenberg’s spot at third.
White said Ray hasn’t been feeling well but also thought the senior was getting in her own head a little bit Friday. While Ray went back out in the seventh and took care of business, in the interim, Brandenberger had little trouble keeping Upper Dublin off balance.
“What’s funny about Tori is she doesn’t even warm up, she throws her five pitches and then is ready to go,” White said. “Once she gets through the first two batters, she starts to throw really well. For a sophomore coming into a varsity game, that’s huge.”
Goodson pushed the lead back to 5-2 with her two-run single in the third then Abington blew the game open the next inning when Clewell ripped a three-run double to right field with two outs, making it 8-2. The freshman added a fourth RBI in the sixth on a two-out single and Abington scored two more runs on a pair of Upper Dublin errors.
The Cardinals, who were coming off a one-sided loss to Upper Merion, didn’t fold and got runners on base pretty consistently. But Upper Dublin was done in by an inability to get the big hit and not making routine plays defensively.
“We struggled defensively at times and didn’t make the routine plays or pitches we needed to,” Cards coach Heather Boyer said. “It’s a learning process. We have anywhere between two to three freshman in the lineup on a given day, plus a few more sophomores.”
UD center fielder Sarah Tannenbaum had two of the team’s four hits with Jackie McMenamin and Sarah Sharp contributing the others.
Abington senior catcher Aubrey Cataldi, on top of managing two pitchers, reached base four times, drawing a walk, being hit twice and singling in her last at-bat with courtesy runner Kate Frank scoring three times. Ray doubled in her first two at-bats and had two RBI.
Goodson said she tried to hold off for pitches she could drive well and it paid off quite well for the sophomore. White said Goodson has a good bat and a good feel for the game and certainly earned herself more time going forward.
“For it being my first time up in varsity, it felt really good to hit it all the way out there,” Goodson said. “We just needed to hit the bats, that’s what we did and I’m glad we were able to come out with the win.”