HAVERFORD — There was no sign of panic, no sense of urgency as the Haverford softball team jogged off the field in the middle of the first inning Wednesday.
Although no one would have blamed the Fords if they were a little rattled.
Three errors in the top half of the inning led to a pair of unearned and put the seventh-seeded Fords in an early hole against No. 23 seed Perkiomen Valley in the second round of the District 1 Class 6A tournament.
Yet the mood in the Haverford dugout was upbeat.
“We weren’t worried about it,” two-time All-Delco outfielder Ali Murphy said. “Two runs isn’t that much when we’re hitting.”
The hits did come, the fielding tightened up and the deficit eventually vanished as the Fords rallied for a 5-2 victory over the Vikings to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in a long time.
Joann Patterson has been the athletic director at Haverford since 1998 and she can remember the Fords winning one playoff round, but not two.
Murphy was the catalyst. She tripled and scored Haverford’s first run on Brooke McKeown’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third inning and had an RBI single and scored on a wild pitch as the Fords scored four times in the fourth to break the game open.
“We go as Ali Murphy goes,” Haverford coach Bob Newman said. “I can’t say enough good things about her. To me, she’s one of the top 10 players in the district, maybe in the state. She’s such a great leader. She helps us out unbelievably. She’s a better kid than she is a player. She’s amazing.”
The spark Murphy provided was not limited to the field. As she usually does, she came into the dugout after that rocky start offering words of encouragement.
“Whenever I come in the dugout I think I always say something like, ‘Let’s go. Let’s get some runs,’” said Murphy, who will play her college ball at Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “All of our seniors usually say something. We needed to get hyped and believe in each other.”
The payoff came in the fourth inning when the Fords put four runs on the board. The final two came when Murphy and McKeown capped the outburst when they scored on the same wild pitch, Murphy from third and McKeown from second.
“That’s the difference in the game when you think about it,” Perkiomen Valley coach Joe Bogus said. “That gave them their fourth and fifth runs.”
As the runs mounted, freshman pitcher Emma Taylor got into a groove. The lefty calmed down after a rocky start to retire 10 straight batters at one point. After giving up four hits and two runs in the first three innings he surrendered three hits and no runs over the final four frames.
“I think I get better as the game goes on,” Taylor said. “I was just throwing to my catcher (Haley Greenwald). The outs happened and everything flowed.”
That wasn’t the case early. Everything went Perkiomen Valley’s way in the first two innings. Abby Souder scored on an error and Sela Fusco drove in Jordan Sell to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead in the first inning. PV also loaded the bases in the top of the second inning but could not add to its lead.
“We got people on base, but we just couldn’t get the key hit,” Bogus said. “A lot of balls we hit deep, but we hit them too high. I always tell them that we want to hit through the ball, concentrate on hitting the part of the ball that’s farthest from you, not closest to you and you’ll line drive it more. We hit some balls deep, but that’s what outfielders are supposed to do. They’re supposed to catch it.”
Five of Perkiomen Valley’s 21 outs were to the outfield, three to Murphy in right field. Taylor also threw eight ground-ball outs, five via infield popups or line drives, two strikeouts and one runner was picked off first base.
“This team always finds a way,” Neumann said. “That’s the way we’ve been all year. They just find a way.”
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