Perkiomen Valley claims first PIAA berth in school history, tops West Chester East 9-1

GRATERFORD — The pinnacle has been reached.

Now, for Perkiomen Valley, it’s all about how long they can stay there.

Another win brought another milestone for PV as the team became the first squad in school history to reach the PIAA playoffs, utilizing yet another all-around team effort to garner a 9-1 victory over visiting West Chester East in the District 1-AAAA quarterfinals Friday afternoon.

The Vikings (23-0 overall), who can add a state berth to a growing list of firsts, will face Avon Grove (5-3 winner over North Penn) in the district semifinals Tuesday at Downingtown West (4 p.m.)

“Our theme this year was that we wanted to go further than any PV team before,’ Perkiomen Valley head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “I told them that they were a good team but we wanted to be even better than that. We wanted to be a great team.’

“This team is better than our previous teams,’ senior captain Brenna Sermarini said. “We just jell better, I think we have more talent, more energy. Everything’s just clicking.

“It feels really good to be the first PV team to make states. No one else can say that they’re first. We’ll always have that.’

How they reached the pinnacle — a PIAA berth — didn’t stray from the status quo that yielded the team its first PAC-10 championship since 2012, becoming the first undefeated champion since Great Valley in 1999.

Timely hitting, good pitching and a little bit of goofiness.

Haley Streeper led the way with three hits, Brenna Sermarini and Kelsey Impink (four RBIs) finished with two hits apiece and Bruni scored a team-high three runs. For the second game in a row, six hitters tallied hits as Perk Valley built a 4-0 lead after two innings before expanding the lead to a 8-0 margin after five.

The run cushion was more than enough for ace Emily Oltman, who got through the West Chester East lineup with relative ease, only allowing a base runner past second twice through the first five innings. The junior righty, who took a liner off the foot in the seventh inning, finished the game with seven strikeouts while scattering seven hits.

“It was a complete effort both on offense and defense,’ McLaughlin said. “A big part of that was that we came out a little more relaxed than we did in the first few innings the last game. We were confident from the beginning, we didn’t seem to be nervous at all. Loose, but focused. That’s the way we have to play.’

“Our coach told us to be goofy but to be focused at the same time,’ Bruni said. “We do better when we’re goofy and relaxed.’

Bruni’s statement was validated early — with her actions.

After Oltman retired the West Chester East side in order to start the contest, Bruni reached base on a walk before stealing second. She then pulled off a perfect delayed steal to reach third before Rachel Helverson (two RBIs) knocked her in with an RBI-single to make it 1-0.

From there, the Vikings poured it on.

Sermarini led off the second inning with a single, followed by a walk to Erin Hallahan and a bunt single by Streeper. Bruni then stepped up big again, knocking in Sermarini with a single before Impink singled to center to plate Hallahan and Streeper to make it 4-0.

The fourth and the fifth provided two-run innings for the Vikings courtesy of RBI groundouts from Helverson and Impink, a hustle play from Sermarini who beat the throw from the shortstop to the plate, and a passed ball that allowed Laura Matekovic to score to make it 8-0.

It was just too much for West Chester East to recover from.

“We had to play a game very similar to what Pottsgrove played against them (in the PAC-10 Final Four),’ West Chester East head coach Charles Lindsay said. “If we played a game similar to what Pottsgrove did then we would have had a shot. But we made too many mistakes. Their speed forces you into mistakes.

“What really killed us today was that we put runners on and then turned the lineup over. We didn’t get the eight and nine hitter out, we let them get on base and that basically buried us.’

Kyra Bond and Leah Ritchey each finished with a team-high two hits in the loss. Bond drove in the team’s lone run with an RBI single in the sixth, scoring Steph Batog.

“It’s been an amazing year,’ Lindsay said. “People didn’t give us a chance at all. We went out and beat teams that no one gave us a chance to beat. We were right in the hunt all year long. I love this group of kids and in all honesty I couldn’t have had more fun with them. I hope they had as much as I did.’

West Chester East’s season ends. Perkiomen Valley’s lives on.

And for the Vikings, they’re still focused on remaining at the top.

“It feels great that we’ve reached this point,’ Sermarini said. “But we still have work to do. We need to keep winning.’

NOTES — Impink hit an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning to make it 9-1.

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