LANSDALE >> North Penn softball coach Rick Torresani saw it during his team’s preseason trip to Myrtle Beach.
The Knights were mashing the ball en masse, with everyone getting in on the hit parades. Then, the Knights left the 75 degree weather and while their pace cooled, their ability to hit the ball did not go away and Torresani knew he might really have something with this lineup.
It’s warm in Pennsylvania now and the Knights are starting to heat back up, which they showed on Wednesday. North Penn collected 13 hits, seven for extra bases and three of them going over the fence in a 15-3 six inning win over host Lansdale Catholic in non-league play.
“We’ve been getting 10, 12, 13 hits and it’s up and down the lineup, any one day, anybody can hit,” Torresani said. “The kids just came out and hit the ball and hopefully it will continue. I said once we got to warmer weather, this team was going to show what it can do and I think we’re going to.”
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) May 2, 2018
The Crusaders, who held Senior Day honors for their five seniors, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Senior Lauren Crim led off with a single, stole second and scored on Megan Burns’ double with Burns coming in when a scorcher off the bat of Mary Picozzi turned into an error.
Not only have the Knights been hitting this season, they’ve also had their share of experience playing from behind. After two scoreless frames to open the game, North Penn sent No. 9 hitter Tori Chiu to the plate to start the third frame.
Chiu, a senior, went down 0-2 in the count before dropping in a leadoff double for the Knights’ first hit and getting them going.
“We were quiet in the beginning so I knew we needed something to get us going when I stepped up the plate,” Chiu said. “That’s what I tried to do and it worked out.”
North Penn ended up sending 11 batters to the plate in the third where they posted a six on the scoreboard and put up four hits, all for extra bases. Chiu scored after a pair of miscues by the LC infield and second baseman Jordan Pietrzykoski staked North Penn to a lead with her one out, two-run double.
Shortstop Jamie Beer followed with the first longball of the afternoon for North Penn, a three-run shot to left field that emptied the bags and gave the Knights a 6-2 advantage. While North Penn proved its hitting ability in the inning, LC coach Paul Suder noted that his team also opened the door for the Knights to capitalize.
“The bottom line is, we had been playing really well going into this game and it starts with us on the defensive end,” Suder said. “This is the type of team you can’t give four or five outs to. We had a couple ground balls we charged in on where you need to take a step back, a couple misplays and overthrows and what happens is then our pitchers start to over-throw and fall behind the count. Then, you have to put one down the middle of the plate.”
Paige Paciolla, the Knights’ No. 8 hitter also hit a double in the third inning and though she didn’t score, it set the table for the rest of the afternoon from the bottom of the North Penn lineup. Both Paciolla and Chiu finished with three hits apiece, with Paciolla hitting two doubles and driving in a run while Chiu added RBI singles in the fifth and sixth innings.
Torresani said not only have those two have been hitting the ball consistently of late, but they’re driving in runs which means opposing teams can’t relax at any point in the Knights’ order. It’s also a pick-me-up for their teammates if someone at the other end of the order is having an off day.
“We started off a little slow, but we knew that we’d get it back,” Chiu said. “We’ve been working a lot on hitting and it’s been working, it’s been showing.”
“I think can anybody can impact the game,” Paciolla, a sophomore, said. “If one person is off, the next person is on and vice-versa. It’s a whole team hitting, not just one person and that’s what’s letting us score all the runs.”
Jordan Pietrzykoski delivers a two-run double for North Penn. Knights go up 3-2 pic.twitter.com/V42VJCwl8O
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) May 2, 2018
Lansdale Catholic hit the ball fairly well itself, getting 10 hits off the Knights but their knocks didn’t have the same impact as North Penn’s. Catcher Rebecca Tiley hit a solo home run in the third to get within 6-3, but LC never got closer and left eight total runners on the bases.
Suder was disappointed to see his team’s recent run of good play snapped, but felt his players would be able to bounce back quickly. LC is in good position in the Catholic League with an 8-2 record and Suder believes his five seniors – Crim, Delaney Smith, Rachael Harryn, Kara Fischetti and Julie Waller – will be the ones to get the team right back on track.
“It’s a great group of girls, they really kept the team together, they’re not only good players but leaders,” Suder said. “They show the younger girls how to act, what to do. They’ve been a blessing to us, they really have.”
The Knights iced the game with a seven-run sixth inning keyed by a grand slam from third baseman Victoria Juckniewitz. Paciolla drove in Beer for the inning’s first run then joined Chiu and Emily Groarke in scoring off Juckniewitz’s shot to left field.
Amanda Greaney followed with a solo home run, capping a two-hit, three-walk afternoon for the catcher. Paciolla had an RBI single in the fifth inning while Greaney drew a bases-loaded walk for the other North Penn RBI in the frame.
LC travels to West Catholic on Monday while North Penn will face Hatboro-Horsham next in the Hatters’ Senior Night game at the Hatboro Little League facility at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“After the first inning, going down, we got through the order once and then it picked up,” Paciolla said. “We all knew we had to step it up.”
NORTH PENN 15, LANSDALE CATHOLIC 3 (6)
NORTH PENN 006 027 – 15 13 1
LANSDALE CATHOLIC 201 000 – 3 10 3
SO-BB: NP – Mady Volpe 6-0, Rachael Lowry 0-0; LC – Megan Burns 1-2, Mary Picozzi 1-2. GS: NP – Victoria Juckniewitz. HR: NP – Jamie Beer, Amanda Greaney; LC – Rebecca Tiley. 2B: NP – Paige Paciolla (2), Jordan Pietrzykoski, Tori Chiu; LC – Megan Burns.
Multiple Hits: NP – Paige Paciolla 3-4, Tori Chiu 3-4, Amanda Greaney 2-2, Jamie Beer2-5; Lauren Crim 2-4, Megan Burns 2-3, Rebecca Tiley 2-3, Julia Marozzi 2-3.