Lansdale Catholic falls to Ortiz, St. Hubert in PCL semifinals

CHELTENHAM — In the postgame handshake line Monday, Lansdale Catholic softball coach Paul Suder checked with St. Hubert’s Jazmin Ortiz to make sure she was a senior.

Suder wanted to make sure it was the last time the Crusaders had to deal with the Bambies’ shortstop, since getting her out has become an exercise in futility.

In their Philadelphia Catholic League semifinal matchup, Ortiz went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, two RBIs and two run scored as St. Hubert jumped out to a 6-1 lead after two innings and topped Lansdale Catholic 8-2 at Arcadia University’s Blankley Field.

“I don’t think we got her out all year, to be honest with you,” said Suder of the St. Hubert senior. “I think the first time we played her, she was 4-for-4. We pitched her inside, outside, high, low, fast, slow. The one time we almost got her and it took a bad hop on her shortstop for the error. That would have been the first time we’ve gotten her out all year.”

A Kaelyn Motts RBI single gave the Crusaders a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Bambies answered with two in the bottom of the frame, then plated four in the second as they sent nine batters to the plate.

Lansdale Catholic had chances to cut into the St. Hubert lead, but could only register an unearned run in the fourth as LC was denied a second-straight appearance in the PCL championship game.

“I think after we had a strong start in the beginning, it a little rough to have that one inning where you go down big,” Crusaders shortstop Amanda Bradley said. “I think we all stayed strong through it. I know that first inning coming in, it was a little tough to get our team rallied a little bit because they did just score four runs, you’re going to feel a little down. But overall, I think, we did our best through it.”

Danielle Franks was 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while Brittany Klesse went 2-for-3 and scored twice for St. Hubert, which advances to face Archbishop Ryan for the league title Wednesday back at Arcadia. Ryan edged Cardinal O’Hara 7-6 in the first semifinal earlier in the day.

Ryan beat Lansdale Catholic 5-0 in last year’s PCL final. The Crusaders don’t get another chance at the Raiders, but still can claim a District 12-AAA championship when they face a Philadelphia Public League side Wednesday, May 27 at Arcadia. Both teams qualify for the PIAA Tournament.

“I think about a week from today, we’re going to be feeling pretty confident going into that district game,” Bradley said. “And then with states coming up after that, we’re going to use this game as like a learning experience because Hubert’s is a really good team, kind of like the teams we’re going to be seeing in states.”

St. Hubert is making its first PCL final appearance since 2013, when it lost to Bonner-Prendergast 6-3.

Bradley had a double while Abby Caruso was 2-for-3 with an RBI for LC.

Melissa Hess earned the win for St. Hubert, the right-hander giving up two runs — one earned — on five hits in a complete-game effort in the circle. She struck out six and walked two.

Lansdale Catholic starter Shannon Hill took the loss, giving up eight runs — six earned — on 11 hits, struck out five and walked two.

“Shannon was throwing to a new catcher today. Our starting catcher was hurt and I think we set up a little different with Alessandra (Messina) than we do with Jess (Hogans),” Suder said. “I think Jess might be a little bit too much to the middle of the plate, where with Alessandra she sets up on the corners a lot more. So we might have caught a little bit too much of the plate there.”

Lansdale Catholic grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Bradley scored from second on Mott’s two-out single.

The Bambies, however, answered to take the lead for good with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Ortiz led off with a singled, while Franks reached first on a dropped third strike. Hill got two fly outs, but a passed ball as Emma Clark drew a walk allowed Ortiz to score. Amanda Iriana’s RBI single plated Franks for a 2-1 advantage.

St. Hubert proceeded to send nine batters to the plate in the second, five collecting hits, including the first four. After back-to-back singles from Julia Vizza and Klesse, Ortiz belted a double to left to bring home Vizza. Franks’ RBI single made it 4-1.

Nicole Vandermay walked to load the bases with no outs. Hill struck out Liz Schule, but the Bambies extended their lead to 6-1 on an Emma Clarke RBI single and Iriana’s RBI sacrifice fly to center.

Lansdale Catholic threatened in the third, putting runners on second and third after Bradley dropped a double just inside the right-field foul line. However, Hess got a strikeout and fly out to keep Hubert up five.

“That’s tough on our part to have baserunners and leave them stranded,” Bradley said. “But at the same time, (Hess is) an experienced pitcher. She knows how to shut down in those big innings, too. So, when she got runners on, the pressure was on us, but it didn’t seem like she really felt the pressure to much.”

Caruso made it 6-2 in the fourth with her RBI single — which scored Ashley Seal, who led off the inning by reaching on an error — but the Bambies tacked on two runs in the fifth. With two outs, Klesse singled with two outs then came home as Ortiz tripled to right. Franks single on the next at-bat scored Ortiz.

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