Owen J. Roberts does all the little things right in run to District 1-AAAA title

ROYERSFORD — Hitting and pitching might be the first facets thought of when considering the most important parts of a softball game.

The other parts, like defense or baserunning, usually get heaped into one category. They’re maybe even considered the ‘˜little things.’

Little things aren’t so little after all.

The Owen J. Roberts softball team isn’t the most dominant hitting team and pitcher Kylie Glenn admittedly isn’t the most overpowering pitcher in the region.

But when the hits come in timely spots, a senior starter can pitch her best during the biggest stretch of the season and the everything else category clicks in, little things can become big things.

It did Thursday when the No. 9 seed Wildcats became the District 1 Class AAAA champions by knocking off previously undefeated No. 2 seed Perkiomen Valley in the district final, 2-0, at Spring-Ford’s Ram Park.

Beating a team OJR (20-4) had lost to twice in the regular season (7-5 on April 1; 1-0 on April 27) was a fitting finish to a dramatic district run that saw it knock off the team that ousted them the year before (Central Bucks South), the No. 1 seed Neshaminy 4-3 in pulse-pounding fashion, and Cinderella story Great Valley 7-6 in 10 innings.

Practice makes perfect may be a cliche. But it’s taken to heart by each OJR player.

“We always try to practice like it’s a game,’ said Glenn, who threw a complete-game, five-hit shutout in the final. “Even when we bunt before a game, the bunt could be the difference in a game. We take everything seriously and try to get better every day because those little things are often what decides games.’

The Wildcats managed only five hits off PV ace Emily Oltman and Glenn struck out just three. The other facets would have to be on point if they wanted a trophy.

“We work very hard and coach (Kevin Kirby) prepares us for everything that can happen out there,’ second baseman Nikki Testa said. “I don’t think we were nervous at all. That’s a huge thing for us.’

The nerves didn’t show when Perkiomen Valley loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning. Glenn got a strikeout — the last of her three for the game — before inducing a grounder toward shortstop Camryn Glenn. As she’s done in each of the past three games, the younger Glenn fired a perfect strike to catcher Lauryn Wensel for an out at home.

Glenn got out of the inning unscathed by doing what she did at an alarming rate Thursday, she fielded her position — seven in all — and threw to first baseman Alissa Vining for the out.

“They (Perkiomen Valley) beat us four times the last two years by a total of six runs. In every one of those games, to their credit, they made one more play than we did. Today, we played tremendous defense, Kylie was really sharp, she hit her spots and we were able to take advantage.’

The good defense and pitching didn’t go for naught thanks to a two-run sixth inning that had nothing to do with hitting any ball over a fence.

Camryn Glenn beat out an infield single and advanced to second on a Vining sacrifice bunt. A batter later and a second out recorded, Testa hit to the hole on the left side and PV shortstop Ana Bruni ranged to make the play. Bruni fired to first, but Testa beat the play. Meanwhile, Glenn had one thing on her mind.

“I knew there were two outs so I was running on the pitch and Kirby was telling to go the whole way. I didn’t stop,’ Camryn Glenn said.

“We’ve scored a lot of runs the last couple years on a ground ball to the shortstop that doesn’t leave the infield. It caught them off guard,’ Kirby said. “Credit to Camryn, she doesn’t stop. I don’t say anything, I just kept my arm going to not alert them and we were able to take advantage of that opportunity.’

The attention to detail didn’t end after Testa made it 2-0 on Kylie Glenn’s flared single to right field before the end of the OJR sixth and even when the Vikings had runners on second and third in the sixth inning or in the seventh when the only error of the game led to a PV player reaching third base.

“We practice it over and over and over again. We work so hard and we practice long,’ Kirby said. “Our practices are focused on details and on those little things. We practice a ton of baserunning, a ton of defense … I say it all the time, it doesn’t matter how big the game is, throwing strikes, playing defense and getting an opportunistic hit decides games.’

Since losing in the PAC-10 semifinals to Spring-Ford on May 12, it’s been a perfect storm for OJR, which can build on its district final when the PIAA Championships begin Monday against District 3 No. 4 Penn Manor at a site and time to be determined.

“This is something we’ve worked for. I think it’s well deserved,’ Testa said. “It’s been a long season — the beginning of the season was crazy with four games a week and we weren’t getting any practices. We were making errors, not playing how we normally play. When we got more into the flow, were outside practicing more and practicing harder … the coaches were emphasizing how every day we had to get better if we wanted to do this (district championship).

“I think we started to really focus and began to put it all together.’

All the pieces, big and little.

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