FAIRLESS HILLS >> It was a little bit difficult to know just what to make out of the Neshaminy High softball team’s 5-1 win over Pennsbury Thursday, April 14 on the Lady Falcons’ home field.
The fact that Pennsbury was right in this game until Rebecca Dixon launched a mammoth two-run blast over the scoreboard in left field in the seventh inning suggests the underdog Falcons played archrival and top-ranked Neshaminy very tough.
On the other hand, there was also no getting around Pennsbury’s huge five errors that handed Neshaminy its first three runs on a platter.
Either way you look at it, the bottom line is top-ranked Neshaminy is now 6-0 and Pennsbury is off to quite possibly its worst start in history at 1-5.
The two leading players in this one were Neshaminy sophomore lefty Sarah Dowalo and Pennsbury sophomore righty Alyssa Hileman.
Already committed to Villanova, Dowalo cranked up a four-hitter and struck out six batters by often mixing in a very effective changeup. The lone Pennsbury run came on a home run to left field by Bailee Zaccaro in the bottom of the sixth.
Hileman had just three strikeouts, but was able keep Neshaminy’s big bats largely silent with a steady dose of inside pitches. This resulted in a multitude of pulled foul balls and Hileman would have really had a masterpiece working into the seventh if not for the five errors.
“I thought Alyssa pitched great; that was a career game for her,” said Pennsbury coach Frank McSherry, whose team now has the tough task of facing two of the premier pitchers in New Jersey when it plays Mt. St. Dominic and Manasquan on Sunday, April 17. “Alyssa hit every spot we asked her to. She made just one bad pitch.”
That was the pitch to Dixon, who wasn’t even one of the players listed for Neshaminy’s preseason article.
“Dixon is a phenomenal defensive first baseman,” said Lady Skins head coach Dave Chichilitti. “She didn’t start right away, but we knew what about her and started working her into the lineup. That’s two home runs in two days for her.”
It looked like the kind of game most everyone expected when Neshaminy scored two runs in the first inning. Singles by Olivia Zaino and Sophie Beretski got it started before Pennsbury booted a ball in the infield. Devan Masciulli then made Pennsbury pay with a two-run single to center field.
Neshaminy also scored in the third inning when an infield hit and another single by Masciulli led to a run scoring on a dropped fly ball. Two more Pennsbury errors also had the Skins in business in the fourth, but Hileman got out of that jam on a long fly ball off the bat of Hunter Hart that was hauled down right in front of the fence.
Pennsbury had its chances, including two runners on base in both the fifth and sixth innings. But other than the Zacarro homer that smashed into a tree beyond the left field fence, Dowalo always had the answer.
“I thought Sarah pitched very well,” said Chichilitti. “She only made one bad pitch (on the Zaccaro home run) the whole game. I also thought we played great defense.”
Among the Neshaminy fielding highlights were two shoe-string catches in right field by Alexis Watkins, the second of which ended the game.
Neshaminy 5, Pennsbury 1
(April 14 at Pennsbury)
Neshaminy (6-0) 201 000 2 — 5 6 1
Pennsbury (1-5) 000 001 0 — 1 4 5
WP – Dowalo. LP – Hileman. HR – Dixon (N), Zaccaro (P). RBIs: N – Masciulli 2, Dixon 2. P – Zaccaro.