Archbishop Wood softball opens new field with win over West Catholic

WARMINSTER >> There’s no place like home.

With every passing day, Archbishop Wood senior Marisa Browne saw the softball team’s new field inching closer and closer to completion. The days of making a 10-minute drive to the Hatboro Little League facility for games or practices were gone. The Vikings finally had a field, even if the weather kept pushing back their first game using it.

Saturday, finally, Wood got to play a home game on its own field and ushered it in with a 15-0 win over West Catholic in three innings.

“It’s so nice having it here, it’s ours,” Browne said. “Football doesn’t even have a field of their own yet, it’s great. I was thrilled, I think everyone on our team was. A lot of the work was done over the summer but seeing it for the first time was exciting.”

The win improved the Vikings to 3-2 on the season and 3-0 in PCL play. While the field is new, the team is not with an experienced  group again looking to contend in the Catholic League. Browne, Jules Donchez, Gianna Lancelotti, Taylor Schwartz and Kylee Guerrera make up the veteran core.

Wood has won the last two District 12 titles, the first in 3A and last year in 5A when the PIAA split to six classes but is still looking to put together a run in the PCL tournament and a victory in states. Like most teams in the area, the Vikings were hamstrung by poor weather throughout preseason but have seemed to hit their stride this past week.

A 9-2 win on the road at St. Hubert saw the Vikings’ bats come to life which was much-needed after the delay-filled start to the season.

“We’re feeling better, we had 14 hits against St. Hubert so the bats are starting to come alive to go with our pitching,” Wood coach Jackie Ecker said. “We have a really good squad this year, so I’m confident in them. Even in the cold, they didn’t give up and kept on fighting. It was tough but they picked it up and I think they’ll keep it going even with a tough schedule ahead.”

Ecker put together a solid non-league slate loaded with SOL squads and while the Vikings dropped their first two games against William Tennent and Council Rock North, Browne said they didn’t get too down about it.

The senior right-hander, a Drexel recruit, is one of the best pitchers in the PCL and also a solid bat. Donchez, Lancelotti, both juniors and Guerrera, a sophomore, anchor the top end of the lineup and have been some of the team’s top hitters since their first seasons with the program.

“There’s not a lot of negativity, I mean we’re girls so there’s drama, but we’re teammates and we rally around each other whenever we need to,” Browne said. “There’s more expectations on us, we have to play well every game, but we still have the same attitude that we’re just going to go out and play.”

Wood also has some newcomers and returners that have stepped up like Jackie Fagan, Rachael Burns and Sam Link. Freshman Deana Campbell likewise earned her way into the starting lineup, mostly in the outfield but also gives the Vikings another pitching arm.

Campbell pitched Saturday’s game and the coaching staff is looking to get the righty more innings through the season.

“This team, they really just rally around each other,” Ecker said. “I think that’s something we’ll do all season.”

Wood formally opens its new field next Saturday when it faces Council Rock South in a non-league game. After the varsity game, which is set for 12:30, there will be a field dedication and an alumni game.

The game will cap what is setting up as a challenging week for the Vikings. Wood is scheduled to host Hatboro-Horsham on Monday, then has two PCL games in a Tuesday home game with Archbishop Ryan and a Thursday trip to Conwell-Egan before hosting the Golden Hawks on Saturday.

“I’m happy that softball teams after us at Wood are going to have their own field here,” Browne said. “We’re the ones that built it, well, not literally build it, but we helped bring it in.”

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