ROYERSFORD — Freshly doused with a Gatorade bath, OJR head coach Kevin Kirby soaked in his team as they took selfies with their newly bestowed hardware.
One remark from the 12-year head coach stood apart from the rest.
“I wouldn’t trade this for that trophy (PAC-10 Championship). They wouldn’t either.’
The previous turnpike trips boiled down to a District 1-AAAA final at an all-too familiar place against an all-too familiar team.
This time, OJR, on the biggest stage, was a cut above the rest.
Kylie Glenn tossed a five-hit shutout in a sensational effort while Nikki Testa provided two hits and a timely RBI as the Wildcats topped previously undefeated Perkiomen Valley 2-0 Thursday afternoon at Spring-Ford High School.
The win garnered the No. 9 Wildcats their first district title since 2008 and culminated a stretch of games that saw them travel down I-76 to knock off No. 8 Central Bucks South and No. 1 seed Neshaminy before taking the next two at Ram Park — a site they left two weeks ago with a bitter taste in their mouths after falling to Spring-Ford in the PAC-10 semifinals.
The win also snapped a four-game losing streak to Perkiomen Valley that spanned the past two seasons.
“To go through the gauntlet that we just went through, it’s been impressive,’ Kirby said. “We beat a hell of a team today. They have good players, they’re well coached and they were 24-0 for a reason.
“We’ve played them tough the last two years. It just seemed like they got that one hit when they needed it, they made that play in the field when they needed it. Today, we were able to do that.’
All on the biggest stage.
Testa knocked in the eventual game-winning run on an infield single, scoring a heads-up Camryn Glenn who scored from second, before Kylie Glenn singled home Testa for a two-run sixth inning that spelled the difference.
“After our loss in the PAC-10 semifinal we just went out and worked really hard,’ Camryn, the younger of the two sisters, said. “It just feels really good to win this one, especially against a good team like PV.’
The loss marked a bitter end to the Vikings first trip to the district final. Emily Oltman threw a complete game, allowing five hits and two earned while striking out six but the offense couldn’t validate her performance, stranding the bases loaded in the fourth and seven runners overall.
“They took advantage of their opportunities, and we had a few but we couldn’t get the timely hit,’ Perkiomen Valley head coach Dan McLaughlin said.
The timely hit never came, mostly because Kylie Glenn wouldn’t allow it.
Not overpowering but lethal in mixing locations and speeds, the crafty righty went to work on the Vikings lineup, working the minimum in three of the game’s seven. Her drop pitch was the most reliable as she induced 13 groundball outs — seven of them coming right back to the circle. She added three strikeouts to her winning stat line.
“I just tried to keep it low because that has been effective for me in the past, especially against Neshaminy who is also known for incredible hitting,’ Glenn said. “If you keep it low, they’ll chase it, chop it down and you’ll get a groundball out of it. Our defense is what wins us games so I just relied on that.’
“Kylie has been tremendous the last couple weeks,’ Kirby said. “Her effectiveness isn’t determined by strikeouts, it’s determined by location. Her location was spot on today. She was able to go up and down, in and out. She was able to keep them off balance a little bit and the defense stepped it up behind her. Camryn (Glenn) and Nikki (Testa) made a couple plays. Bri made a couple nice plays at third and Kylie was incredible fielding her position. It’s easier to play defense behind someone who plays like that.’
The Wildcats offense had a rough time early offensively as Oltman was able to work herself through the lineup with relative ease, striking out five through her first five scoreless innings.
But in the sixth, OJR turned the tide.
Camryn Glenn started off the inning with a single, then was moved over by an Alissa Vining sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout to the next batter, Testa delivered an infield single that was fielded by Ana Bruni and rifled over to first. Sensing hesitation by the PV first baseman, Camryn Glenn raced home and slid in safely below the high throw that allowed Testa to go to second. Following a Smith walk, Kylie Glenn poked a flare to right allowing Testa to beat the throw from right fielder Brenna Sermarini to make it 2-0.
The lead was enough for Glenn, even as she ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing Noelle McCullough (walk) and Shannon Beattie (double) to reach second and third. She got the next hitter to ground out to short to end the threat then worked around having Erin Hallahan on base, getting the last batter to ground back to the rubber for the final out.
“Even with the runner on base, it’s not a big deal,’ Glenn said. “First I was like ‘˜Oh, man they have a runner on, I hope they don’t rally’ but then I realized that even if that run scores it’s still 2-1. The last thing you want to do is let them hang around so I tried to get out of it as quickly as I could.’
“Those close games that we were in to get here, it just helped built the resilience of these kids; we don’t get rattled,’ Kirby said. “This is the result of it. This is just awesome, I’m just so happy for these kids. They’ve worked so hard and they deserve this.’
NOTES — Owen J. Roberts will face District 3’s fourth place finisher, Penn Manor, in the opening round of the PIAA-AAAA Championship Monday at a time and site to be determined. Perkiomen Valley will face District 12 Champion Archbishop Ryan in the first round at 5 p.m. at Arcadia University.
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