TOWAMENCIN >> For a second, the ball was in the infielder’s glove and then it wasn’t.
It was a gift to Souderton and the Indians cashed in on it in a big way. Then the Indians gave North Penn a few gifts of their own with defensive mistakes and the Maidens cashed in on them to get even. It had gotten to the point where it felt like the next mistake would cost the game.
So, it did.
Souderton escaped with an 8-7 win over North Penn Tuesday in a game that saw both teams commit their fair share of defensive mistakes. In the end, the host Maidens were a little bit more sloppy as they lost their sole perch atop the Suburban One League Continental Conference after just a day.
“That was just horrible softball on our end, we gave them everything that they got,” North Penn coach Rick Torresani said. “They didn’t back off, but how many runs can you give a team? Then you come back, make another error and they score the winning run.”
Souderton (3-3, 3-3 SOL Continental), which has struggled to find consistency out of the gate, was far from perfect on Tuesday, committing five errors and letting North Penn (5-3, 4-2 SOL) back into a game it led comfortably. But, the Indians also displayed some mental fight by grinding through a bad fielding day to come back and score the winning run in the top of the seventh.
“We needed it, we came in from the Pennridge win and knew we could hit and field and just needed to bring it together,” Souderton coach Steph Rummel said. “We did have a lot of errors but fortunately our bats came with us. I think we bounced off the Pennridge win well.”
North Penn scored, fittingly, on an error in the bottom of the first inning when shortstop Katie Beer zoomed in on an errant throw. Beer had a big day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, three runs and a walk.
Through two innings, it was shaping up as a pitcher’s battle until a horde of errors and other mistakes led to quite a few runs. In the top of the third, Souderton freshman Jen Klepfer started off what would be a huge inning with a single.
“Something that helps me be successful, I get really nervous, so I just take a big breath and tell myself I can do this,” Klepfer, the No. 8 hitter, said. “I try to stay calm, really see the ball in and another really big thing is choosing my pitch to hit. I’m really working on that.”
Klepfer was followed by the infield error, putting two runners on with no outs with the lineup turning over. After Savannah Bostwick put down a sac bunt and Angie Carty ground into a fielder’s choice, plating a run, the Souderton bats erupted.
Missy Wiley, Alex Scheeler and Dayna Shelly all singled before shortstop Alyssa McCormick hit a two-run double then scored on a single by Bri Neely for a six-run frame. Souderton struck for six hits in the frame and got five of its runs after going down to its last out.
“I think our team’s hitting is very contagious,” Rummel said. “Once one starts hitting or something happens in the field, we just roll with it and that’s what they’re good at. That was in our favor today and Jen had a big hit at the end.”
Souderton added a run in the top of the fifth when Shelly scored on a wild pitch, her second such scoring instance of the game. Despite having two errors behind her and facing a bases loaded spot, Maidens pitcher Bri Battavio was able to limit the damage to that lone run when she struck out Jordan Peacock.
But North Penn came back in the bottom of the frame after Beer doubled and Courtney Neal singled then both scored on Kariam Bou’s double. A two-out single by Melanie Lauro added a third run, but North Penn also left two on the bases.
The next inning, it was an error and passed ball on Souderton’s end that led to two of North Penn’s three runs in the sixth. Bou added her third RBI on a groundout as the Maidens came all the way back to tie it 7-7 going into the final inning.
“Personally, I felt confident,” Klepfer said. “I know I can put the ball in play and get runners on base. As a team, I think we were confident. We know we can hit and it’s just a matter of putting that into action.”
After Battavio got the first two hitters in the seventh, North Penn’s fourth error of the game put Neely on and brought Klepfer to bat. Klepfer took the same approach as she had earlier and showed patience waiting for a pitch she felt she could really drive.
The freshman first baseman sent a 1-2 pitch deep into the outfield for the go-ahead run and North Penn could only watch as another mistake was punished.
“That’s not something that’s been built-here, tradition wise, to be doing that,” Torresani said. “We did it at Parkland in one inning and again today in one inning. It’s going to hurt us and this loss is going to hurt us. I’m very disappointed in the way we played.”
Scheeler allowed two runners on in the bottom of the seventh, but got Neal to pop up and thanks to a great play by a backtracking and twisting Bostwick, got the final out to seal the win.
“I think it should motivate us,” Klepfer said. “The seniors have said before if we had a bad game to just shake it off. I think last week against Pennridge, we broke through the ice and this can be the start of a new season. From now on, I think we’ll be able to put our best out there.”