Bilotti, Christoffers help North Penn edge Hatboro-Horsham, capture SOL Continental crown

HORSHAM — Rock-solid defense and another pitching gem by Jackie Bilotti helped the North Penn softball team pry open the door to a conference title.

Opportunity then came in the fifth, when Becky Christoffers stepped to the plate with two outs, with a chance to put the Maidens ahead.

“I hoped to get the one pitch that was mine,’ North Penn’s No. 2 hitter said.

Christoffers smacked a high chopper into left, driving in Courtney Neal, for the eventual winning run in the Maidens’ 1-0 victory over Hatboro-Horsham, as North Penn — coupled with a loss by Souderton Area later in the day — claimed the Suburban One League Continental Conference title.

“(Seeing the ball go through to left) was the best feeling ever,’ Christoffers said. “This is our first conference title since 1985, so it’s a great feeling. And coach (Rick) Torresani is happy because he loves this senior class and loves this team.’

North Penn finished the regular season with a dominant 18-2 mark, including a 12-2 record in the conference. Souderton (11-3) would have a chance to earn a share of the title later Wednesday evening, but fell to Central Bucks East.

Christoffers’ hit in the fifth helped provide the only offense the Maidens would need, thanks to another strong outing from Bilotti. The right hander allowed just three hits, struck out one, walked one, and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth.

The Hatters (12-8, 7-7) began that inning with a line-drive single to right by Dee Moyer, followed by a double to the gap in right center by Jen Cader.

Hatboro had runners on second and third with no outs, but Bilotti retired the next three batters, catching a pop-up by Jaynie Black, fielding a bunt by Bridget Schaffer and throwing the runner out at home, then got Kaeli Simmons to fly out to left.

“You can’t bunt to the best player on the field — Bilotti is second to none,’ Hatters coach Joe DiFilippo said. “The good thing is we only lost 1-0, and you’re not gonna see a better pitcher.

“We’re ready to go now. I think we have peaked, and maybe it’s time because it’s right before the playoffs start, so maybe it’s time we get going.’

Right-hander Lexie Campbell threw hard for the Hatters, allowing just one hit — a single by Hannah Uhler — in the first four innings.

North Penn then led off the fifth with a single down the first-base line by Neal, and after Anna Gill popped out, Katie Beer — who played a terrific defensive game at shortstop — drew a walk to give the Maidens runners on first and second.

Bilotti then popped out to second, setting up Christoffers’ key at-bat.

“She came through again, and she’s done that a few times for us this year,’ Torresani said. “She’s been working so hard, being a senior, that she doesn’t want this to end, and she wanted to go out there and win the championship.’

With NP ahead 1-0, Bilotti didn’t just protect the Maidens’ lead, she nearly increased it. The senior belted a towering shot to left, but with a stiff wind blowing in, the ball stayed in the park for the second out of the seventh.

Bilotti retired the Hatters 1-2-3 in the final two innings, as North Penn charges into the postseason as conference champs.

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