CHELTENHAM >> After two innings, the North Penn softball team had just one hit off St. Hubert right-hander Lindsey Davies. But Amanda Greaney’s confidence that the Knights’ bats were going to get going never wavered.
“We don’t get nervous or anything,” Greaney said. “Because, like I said, first time through the lineup we usually don’t hit very well. As soon as we get the second time, make adjustments, we hit so well.”
Sure enough, in the third inning the North Penn offense roared to life. Mady Volpe, meanwhile, never gave the District 12 champ Bambies that opportunity, striking out nine in tossing a no-hitter as the Knights rolled to a 10-0 five-inning victory in the PIAA Class 6A first round Monday afternoon at Arcadia University’s Blankley Field.
“Last time we were here (in 2014) we faced (Archbishop) Ryan, we didn’t know anything about them and they just shut us down a couple years ago,” North Penn coach Rick Torresani said. “This year, I didn’t know anything about Hubert’s other than their pitcher was OK, decent. I was told she was good, above average. And I felt, well, we just got to go out and if we do what we normally do, we’ll be fine.
“And if Mady pitches the way she normally does, we’ll be fine. And that’s what happened today.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) June 5, 2018
Half of the Knights’ runs came courtesy of Greaney — the sophomore catcher finishing 3-for-4 with a double and five RBIs as North Penn (20-5) earned its first state victory since 2013 and advances to face District 11 champ Parkland in the quarterfinals Thursday at a site and time to be announced. Parkland shut out District 3 runner-up Central York 5-0 at Patriots Park in Allentown.
“She’s playing with a chip on her shoulder and that comes from the all-league thing,” said Torresani of Greaney, who was not named to any All-SOL Continental Conference team. “And when she finally saw it, because I hadn’t told her, she was a little upset and didn’t understand. And she said ‘Coach don’t worry about it, I got a chip on my shoulder and I’m going to lay it out on the team that we face.’”
North Penn, the third place team from District 1, collected 14 hits in the game’s final three innings, scoring four runs in both the third and fourth then tacking on two more in the fifth to enact the 10-run mercy rule. The Knights have now scored at least 10 runs in three of their five postseason games.
“I feel like it’s contagious, hits are contagious,” Greaney said. “So once one girl gets a hit and gets on, we all start getting more hype and we all just do a lot better.”
Knights No. 9 hitter Courtney Neal went 3-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored, Emily Groarke — who batted second — was 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored while leadoff hitter Victoria Juckniewitz was 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored.
“As soon as we get on the bus, it’s just game on, get ready, visualize,” Greaney said. “And I feel like that helps a lot. Before the games we always visualize what we’re going to do and you can just see the ball of the bat and it just helps a lot.”
Volpe did not give a walk and the only thing keeping the freshman righty from a perfect five innings was a one-out error on a pop up in front of home plate in the bottom of the second. But Volpe responded to that by striking out the next two batters.
“Just get ahead in batters and mix in the rise, the change, everything,” Volpe said. “Coach Torresani, he always knows what to throw for me and just hitting-wise, too, everyone can hit in the lineup so that’s always helpful, especially for a pitching mind set. With one run, OK, I know what my team does for me and I need to help them.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) June 4, 2018
Volpe capped the NP victory by striking out the Bambies in order in the fifth.
“Back-door curve is working really well and just the movement of it, too,” Volpe said. “And curveball and riseball, just mixing it in, always throws off the batters.”
Davies took the loss to St. Hubert, giving up eight runs — all earned — on 11 hits in four innings. She did allow a walk and struck out two.
North Penn finally got its offense on track in the top of the third with four straight one-out hits — the first a single by Neal to left center with an error on the play allowing the senior to reach second base. Neal then scored the contest’s opening run on Juckniewitz’s RBI single to right center.
“Courtney has done it for us all year,” Torresani said. “She’s played great defense and every once in a while she’d go on a streak and today was hot, got three hits, put the ball down and made them make the play and we were hitting the ball a little bit up in the air, fly balls. So, yeah, she started it off and then everybody just fed off of her.”
After Groarke dropped a single into shallow right center, Greaney gave the Knights a 3-0 lead by belting a two-RBI double to deep left center.
“I thought it went over (the fence) but it was just short,” Greaney said. “And at our home field it probably would have gone over but it’s still all right, I still got the RBIs so that’s all that matters.”
Greaney’s courtesy runner, Gianna Costello, went to third on a wild pitch then scored to make it 4-0 when Elia Namey reached first on an error.
The Knights doubled the lead to 8-0 in the fourth. Paige Paciolla led off with a double, went to third on a wild pitch then came home on Neal’s RBI single up the middle.
After a Juckniewitz single, Groarke’s sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third for Greaney, who plated both with a two-RBI single to left center. Two batters later, Jordan Pietrzykoski’s RBI single thorough the left side scored Costello from second.
The Knights went up 10-0 in the fifth on back-to-back RBI singles from Groarke and Greaney.
North Penn 10, St. Hubert 0 (5)
North Penn 004 42 — 10 15 1
St. Hubert 000 00 — 0 0 2
WP: Mady Volpe 5 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 9 SO.
LP: Lindsey Davies 4 IP 11 H 8 R 8 ER 0 BB 2 SO.
2B: NP-Amanda Greaney, Paige Paciolla.
North Penn: Greaney 3-4, 5 RBI; Gianna Costello 2 R; Emily Groarke 3-3, RBI, R; Victoria Juckniewitz 3-4, RBI, 3 R; Courtney Neal 3-3, RBI, 3 R.