Cassidy’s triple helps Chichester break through

NETHER PROVIDENCE — Jenna Cassidy’s role on the Chichester softball team is pretty straightforward.

The senior spends a lot of time with a bat in her hand, readying for her next plate appearance as the designated player. Because she’s not playing the field, Cassidy can put her entire focus on hitting.

Cassidy takes a lot of pride in it, too, and for the fact that she hits at the very bottom of the Eagles lineup. That’s cool with her. She likes to be underestimated. It’s tradition in baseball and softball to move the outfielders in when the nine-hole hitter steps in the box. Oh, weak hitter, everybody move in. Cassidy is one exception to that age-old thinking. If you sleep on her, she’ll make you pay, and that’s precisely what occurred Tuesday afternoon at Strath Haven High School in the District One Class AAA semifinal round.

Cassidy drilled a three-run triple to left field in the second inning to key a huge inning for No. 1 Chichester. Cassidy’s big knock was the breakthrough Chichester was looking for, and All-Delco pitcher Meghan Wimmer did the rest from the circle in an 8-0 thumping of fifth-seeded Radnor.

Chichester advances to the District One title game Thursday for the second time three years. The Eagles will take on No. 3 Villa Maria, which disposed of second-seeded Upper Merion, 5-4. Wimmer doubled, homered and struck out 14 Villa Maria hitters in a 4-1 win May 11.

In Tuesday’s blanking of Radnor, Wimmer wouldn’t have had the type of run support she ultimately received had it not been for the clutch hitting of the team’s 7-8-9 hitters. Tiffany Malin, Janay Harris and Cassidy went a combined 5-for-7 with three RBIs and five runs scored. Cassidy’s three-bagger in the second inning was the big blow, as it came after Harris was plunked by a Brooke Nicander pitch to plate Chi’s first run.

“I wasn’t really trying to hit it anywhere (in particular),’ Cassidy said. “I had two strikes and was just trying to get my bat on the ball (and) hit it somewhere because the bases were loaded. I was really proud. I had two strikes on me and I missed one (pitch) really badly, so when I actually got the hit, I was really happy to get us three runs.’

Wimmer was confident that Cassidy would pull through in that spot. She’s watched her do it before.

“She does that from time to time, she’ll just hit the ball and put it over the left fielder’s head,’ Wimmer said. “She’s got more power than you think. She did something like that, I forget, in another playoff game in the past, so we’ve seen her do it before.’

If you were told Wimmer would go hitless in four at-bats and the first three batters in the Chichester lineup would muster only one hit — a Nicole O’Donnell RBI single — yet Chichester would still with by eight runs, you’d probably call that person crazy. But it goes to show that the whole of this year’s Chichester (21-1) squad is greater than the sum of its parts.

“Everybody straight through can hit the ball,’ said first baseman and cleanup hitter Haley Coale, who was 2-for-2 with an RBI and two walks. “I had no doubt that (Cassidy) do that. She’s a solid hitter.’

Wimmer was fighting the heat and was under the weather. In between innings she sat indian style in the shade, trying her best to cool off and re-energize. Because she was awesome, it was hard to notice that the Ivy League-bound senior wasn’t at full strength.

“The heat didn’t help matters and on top of that, I’m a little sick,’ she said. “I just had to battle though.’

According to the PIAA softball committee, Wimmer set Class AAA records for most wins (69) and strikeouts (727) in a career in Tuesday’s game. Both of those marks were previously owned by Exeter High’s Kristen Erb. Wimmer gave a shout-out to her catchers over the years, now-senior third baseman Maddie Thornton and the sophomore O’Donnell.

“I couldn’t have done any of it without my team and I definitely couldn’t have gotten the strikeouts without Nicole and Maddie,’ said Wimmer, who fanned 11 Radnor hitters. “The wins isn’t just a me thing, it’s more of a team thing.’

Radnor kicked up a fuss in the second inning. Holly Pachella led off with a single and moved to third on a chopper up the middle off the bat of Nicander, who stole second base. With two runners in scoring position, Wimmer bore down and struck out Sarah Rosenblum to end the inning. From there, Wimmer was in control. Senior Katie Jordan had two of Radnor’s four hits.

The Raiders (13-10) exceeded expectations by overcoming a 2-6 start and winning two district playoff games.

“Down the stretch we won a lot of big games against good teams,’ coach John Schaefer said. “We beat (Christopher) Dock, which is the top seed in AA, and we beat Villa … so we got a lot of good experience and we do have a good core of sophomores and juniors who we’re coming back with.’

Chichester avenged last year’s District One semifinal loss to Radnor. In 2013, the Eagles defeated the Raiders in the district quarterfinal round on the way to the finals and a state tournament appearance.

“Chichester is playing great softball right now,’ Schaefer said. “Meghan is great. We’ve seen her three years in a row in the playoffs, so I’m happy she’s graduating. We haven’t seen anyone quite like her. She’s definitely the best in Delco.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply