Wensel, Wildcats earn PIAA berth with 4-3 victory over Neshaminy

NESHAMINY — Sometime not so long ago, Lauryn Wensel didn’t think she was going to have a softball season.

The Owen J. Roberts senior fought her way back from an ACL injury to return in time for the Wildcats’ playoff run, duration unknown.

Friday, the Wildcats catcher played in an unforgettable game she would have been fine with as her one and only.

“If I had to trade the whole season for that game again I would,’ Wensel said. “That was amazing.’

Wensel and the Wildcats don’t have to make a trade. Rather, they’ve earned themselves another season.

Owen J. Roberts needed every bit of Wensel’s two-run single in the second inning and two late insurance runs to allow Kylie Glenn to escape the last-chance onslaught of No. 1 seed Neshaminy as the Wildcats pulled off a 4-3 victory in the District 1-AAAA quarterfinals, earning them a place in the PIAA Class AAAA Championships for the first time since 2009.

“It’s exciting. We’ve never gotten this far in my four years so it’s something new and I’m excited for it. I think we can do well,’ Glenn said.

“With the 10 seniors on the team, we have a lot of heart and we love to play,’ Wensel said. “We all want to do well and this is a great way to finish out our senior year. And it’s not over yet.’

The No. 9 seed Wildcats (19-3 overall) are far from finished with a district semifinal matchup with No. 20 Great Valley — a 8-7 winner over No. 5 Souderton in comeback fashion Friday — on Tuesday (4 p.m.) at Spring-Ford before states even begin.

Wensel provided the timely hit early with her two-run single while the offense was also elevated by center fielder Sam Garritano (3-for-3) and second baseman Nikki Testa (2-for-4). Sophomore shortstop Camryn Glenn (1-for-2) led the flawless OJR defense while older sister Kylie Glenn was earning rave reviews after one of her best outings of the season, a six-hitter of one of the district’s most potent lineups to best Neshaminy freshman ace Amber Brugger (four earned runs, 10 hits, three strikeouts, one walk).

“She was sensational,’ OJR coach Kevin Kirby said. “Their pitcher’s good and they made tremendous plays on defense, but their reputation was their offense. You don’t need to look at their scores very long — they scored double-digit runs almost every game.

“And for (Glenn) to come out and pitch that way and hit her spots and keep throwing ground balls was outstanding.’

It nearly came undone even with a 4-0 lead and three outs to get against Neshaminy (19-3), the Suburban One League National Division champions.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Redskins put their first two batters on base before leadoff hitter Mackensie Compton smoked an RBI double to center to get her team on the board and put runners on second and third before Hunter Hart walked to load the bases.

Glenn induced a fly out to center field for the much-needed first out, bringing Neshaminy cleanup hitter Sam Offenback up with bases loaded.

No stranger to the big hit, Offenback crushed a Glenn offering to deep left field, a would-be game-winning grand slam … foul.

Instead, Offenback walked to bring home Neshaminy’s second run. Nikki Wild followed and grounded to shortstop where Camryn Glenn fielded and fired a perfect strike to Wensel at home plate for the force out and second out. Sarah Snider worked another walk to cut it to 4-3, but Kylie Glenn managed to induce a pop fly to the sure-handed Garritano in center from Corinne Garuffe for the final out.

“I gave myself like 10 (heartattacks),’ Glenn said, able to joke in the aftermath. “We always make it interesting.’

“I probably had the same amount — doubled,’ Wensel said.

The necessary cushion was a product of OJR’s two-run second inning with Wensel driving in third baseman Brianna Smith (single) and courtesy runner Bridget Guinan (for Kylie Glenn).

The Wildcats plated two more in the top of the seventh after singles from Garritano and Camryn Glenn. Alissa Vining singled to drive in Garritano before Glenn capitalized on two wild pitches from Brugger to make it 4-0. All the while, Kylie Glenn kept the Redskin bats at bay, facing four or fewer batters in four of the first six innings.

It was just enough to allow OJR to move on thanks for executing its gameplan on the biggest stage — so far — of its season.

“I tell the kids all the time, it doesn’t matter what the game means, the same thing decides it: throwing strikes, playing defense and getting timely hits. And we were able to do that,’ Kirby said.

There’s more drama to create for the Wildcats and no one is happier about that then the player who’s only been in the lineup two weeks, Wensel.

“It was great,’ she said. “I thought I would miss the whole season but the team has given me a whole other season to come back for.’

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