EAST WHITELAND >> She didn’t want this to be the last go-around with her senior class.
So Alissa Vining did as she needed to do … and delivered with her signature game of the season.
Vining went the distance, allowing four hits while matching a season-best in strikeouts as Owen J. Roberts took advantage of Great Valley’s miscues to come away with a 3-1 victory in the District 1-AAAA opening round Tuesday.
“I think Alissa moved the ball well today,” OJR head coach Jen Beaver said. “She kept them off balance and she looked sharp. She was focused at the start of this game and that carried her throughout.”
The win sends the defending district champions to No. 1 seed Upper Darby for a second round contest Wednesday at 4 p.m. Great Valley, meanwhile, sees another standout season under Jeff Cellucci come to a close weeks after the Patriots won their first Ches-Mont American Division title.
“We came out flat, we beat ourselves,” Cellucci said. “They’re (OJR) a good team, when you give them an opening they take advantage of it. Give them all the credit in the world.”
Errors and mental lapses became the Patriots downfall Tuesday as the Wildcats struck for two in the fourth before adding an insurance run in the sixth, all unearned and all spoiling an exceptional effort from Morgan Orlowski in the circle. The junior righthander scattered six hits and struck out two in the loss. “She put a helluva effort in,” Cellucci said. “Very disappointed. Three unearned runs with a kid that should have won 1-0. I told her, we’ll go as you go and that’s pretty much how it went. Today we didn’t back her up, it’s a shame. She’s a tough kid.”
Sarah Schubert capped her senior season with 2-for-2 performance, a leadoff home run providing the only scoring for the home team. She then followed with a sharply hit liner for a double that rattled the top of the fence, inches away from her second homer.
“She’s been doing that all year,” Cellucci said of Schubert, a Muhlenberg commit. “She’s batted just shy of .500, has had six home runs and has led us in every category. I batted her first because people were trying to pitch around her. I figured I needed to put her up top and get her the most at bats as we can. She’s produced every single time. I don’t know how to replace a player like that.”
Her effort, however, wasn’t to be outmatched by that of Vining, who rebounded from giving up the leadoff home run in sensational fashion. The senior righty didn’t allow a runner past second from the fourth through seventh inning and retired the side in order in both the sixth and seventh inning to earn the win. Her six strikeouts matched her season-best effort in a win against Upper Perkiomen April 27.
“That first pitch, it was a good pitch and Sarah just took it. I was like ‘Okay!’,” Vining said. “I knew that we had to come back from that and my team helped me do that.”
Bridget Guinan went 3-for-3 and knocked in the eventual game-winning run in the fourth, a single that stood as the only conventional manner OJR brought a run across. The Wildcats utilized a two-out error by the GV shortstop to tie the game at 1 before Guinan was behind the team’s insurance run in the sixth. With Emily Shaheen on third (two runs scored), the sophomore hit a solid grounder to the GV third baseman, who threw home to try and nab Shaheen. Shaheen, realizing she would be out by a good margin, got herself in a rundown, diving back safely to third. Guinan then took off for second and slid in ahead of the throw before Shaheen then took off for home, scoring without incident to make it 3-1.
“We knew we had to capitalize on the opportunities that we had,” Guinan said. “When I saw the throw go to third, I knew I had a chance to make it at second. I was pretty excited when I saw Emily score.”
“They are well coached, and they are a good team,” Beaver said of GV. “Against a team as evenly matched as (Great Valley), we had to make sure we capitalized on our chances when they were presented to us.”
NOTES >> Vining also had two hits to go along with her pitching line. … The loss culminates the careers of GV’s Schubert, Audra Schoen, Morgan Johnson, Bridget Taylor, Emily Fisher and Emily Nusbickel. Cellucci was high on each of them, praising their efforts the past few seasons, which saw them turn around a perennial doormat into one of the district’s best. … Great Valley fell to OJR in last year’s district semifinals in a 10-inning thriller, 6-5. … Cellucci coached Beaver in the Carpenter Cup, calling her “one of the best players he’s coached” in the tournament.