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Perfect timing pushes Owen J. Roberts to first PAC softball championship since 2009

The Owen J. Roberts softball team celebrates after defeating Upper Perkiomen 11-0 to win the PAC championship on May 17. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

BOYERTOWN >> Timing is everything.

If it’s not, you’ll have a hard time explaining the Owen J. Roberts softball team.

Seven days ago, the Wildcats were in jeopardy of missing out on the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs. Perfect timing brought a result that earned them the second wild card into the Final Four. And it coincided with senior Natalie Alldred returning to the pitching circle for the first time all season.

The serendipity hasn’t stopped since.

The Wildcats picked the perfect time to play their best game of the season in Wednesday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference championship game. It was total domination for Owen J. Roberts in a six-inning, 11-0 victory over Frontier Division champion Upper Perkiomen to win the program’s first conference crown since 2009.

“You come into high school and this is what you play for, you play for the PAC (championship). It’s nice to finally win it,” said Alldred.

The Owen J. Roberts softball team poses with the PAC championship plaque after winning the final over Upper Perkiomen on May 17 at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Owen J. Roberts’ Hayden Streeter (5), Liza Flavin (32) and teammates raise the PAC championship plaque on May 17. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

With Natalie Alldred holding the plaque, the Owen J. Roberts softball team celebrates after winning the PAC championship over Upper Perkiomen on May 17. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

“This has been my goal since I was 8 years old to win something like this. It means a lot, especially to do it as a senior,” said catcher Liv Egan. “It’s mic drop action and I really am here for it. I’m really ecstatic.”

The Wildcats (14-8) squeaked into the PAC playoffs as the No. 4 seed and proceeded to out-score the opposition 22-0, jumping all over top-seeded Boyertown, which lost its ace pitcher Ella Hurter to injury, 11-0 in the semifinals on Monday.

There were championship-worthy performances up and down the OJR lineup, beginning with its four seniors.

Alldred pitched the first four innings – her third and longest outing of the season since returning from a torn labrum suffered last summer – and allowed four hits and zero runs with three strikeouts and a walk. She was 2-for-4 at the plate.

“I knew coming in I wanted the ball in a situation like this,” Alldred said. “My defense definitely backed me up. We played great; our energy was there from the beginning.”

Egan, her battery mate and one of the Wildcats’ biggest personalities, was 2-for-3 with two RBI; on-fire leadoff hitter Sophia Grillo was 4-for-4 with two RBI, including a solo home run in the third inning; and outfielder Hayden Streeter scored a run and was part of the Wildcats’ error-free defense.

“Everything went right,” said Grillo. “Our energy from the very beginning, we weren’t tight, weren’t worried about making errors or the negative things. We were just focusing on the positive.”

Grillo picked some fortuitous timing as well: she’s a senior rookie in softball. The centerfielder has played on the OJR baseball team each spring prior, but decided on the switch to softball last summer.

“This is my first year on the team – I played boys’ baseball before this – and they have been nothing but amazing, helping me blend with the team and adjust to the newer sport,” Grillo said. “It’s such a family atmosphere. We want each other to do great and it’s nothing but support.

“It was a hard transition having to make up for missing 12 years compared to all of my teammates. I had to adjust pretty quickly but this team was amazing helping me do that.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Sophia Grillo rounds first base after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against Upper Perkiomen during the PAC championship game on May 17 at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Upper Perkiomen’s Elizabeth Proctor slides into second base ahead of the tag from Owen J. Roberts’ Rachel Epps during the PAC championship game on May 17 at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Sophomore middle infielders Jacqui Skonieczny and Rachel Epps were big contributors, too. Second baseman Skonieczny was 2-for-2 with a tone-setting two-run single in the second inning that opened the game’s scoring. Shortstop Epps was 2-for-4 with two RBI, her two-run single in the fifth upping OJR’s lead to 6-0 before its five-run sixth blew the game open.

Freshman Amelia Atkins threw a pair of hit-free innings in relief, inducing the championship-clinching 5-4-3 double play to end it.

It was the second time this season OJR had the number of Upper Perk standout senior pitcher Madalyn Dyer (5 IP, 9 hits, 6 ER, 3BB, 6K). OJR won in the regular season 11-6 on April 26.

“They put the ball in play and they hit it hard. When we played them at home, they hit Madalyn around, hit the balls to right-center,” said Upper Perk coach Dean Sullivan. “They kind of have her number. Last year I think they hit her around pretty good in the one game, but then we ended up beating them. They just have her number. They’re a good-hitting team.”

Darby Gasda had two of Upper Perk’s four hits. The Tribe (16-6) shocked Spring-Ford on a walk-off grand slam from Ashley Forrest in the semifinals, but couldn’t summon the same late magic against OJR.

Coincidentally, the Wildcats have the Indians to thank for qualifying for PACs: Upper Perk’s 17-12 win over Methacton on May 15 elevated OJR into the field.

“We got them in here because we beat Methacton on the last day. (OJR coach Steve Winnick) owes me a beer or something,” joked Sullivan.

Owen J. Roberts pitcher Natalie Alldred delivers to the plate against Upper Perkiomen during the PAC championship game on May 17 at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The season has not been all roses for OJR, going 5-5 in divisional play and 1-3 against a tough non-league schedule. But the team kept the belief, according to Egan.

“It’s about never giving up. I think we got mercy-ruled as many times as we mercy-ruled other teams,” she said. “Riding on those highs and lows and staying level throughout them all is what got us here in the end.”

With Alldred and Atkins combined on the four-hit shutout, OJR was appropriately the A-team Wednesday night. Alldred loves it when a plan comes together.

“Seeing the team come together like that, we do it in practice everyday, we play so well as a team and have great chemistry. Seeing it all come together is awesome,” Alldred.

“We knew we could do it this season. We just needed to put the pieces together.”

NOTES >> Owen J. Roberts is No. 13 in the District 1-6A rankings and will open district play with a home game on Monday, May 22. Upper Perk is No. 2 in the District 1-4A rankings and host a semifinal on Tuesday, May 23.


Owen J. Roberts 11, Upper Perkiomen 0, 6 inn.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
Owen J. Roberts 0 2 1 0 3 5 11 13 0
Upper Perkiomen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
OJR Upper Perkiomen
Grillo 4 2 4 2 Gasda 2 0 2 0
Flavin 4 1 0 0 Berg 3 0 0 0
Alldred 4 2 2 0 Proctor 2 0 0 0
Cerimele 2 1 1 0 Dyer 2 0 0 0
Atkins 1 0 0 0 Davidheiser 0 0 0 0
Egan 3 0 2 2 Forrest 3 0 1 0
Epps 4 0 2 2 Robinson 2 0 1 0
Winnick 2 0 0 0 Molnar 2 0 0 0
Stofko 1 0 0 0 Adair 2 0 0 0
Skonieczny 2 1 2 2 Gray 2 0 0 0
Streeter 3 1 0 0
Cameron 0 0 0 0
Totals 30 11 13 8 Totals 20 0 4 0

2B — Skonieczny. HR-Grillo. SB-Epps, Cameron 2. CS-Grillo.

Owen J Roberts
Alldred (W) 4 4 0 0 1 3
Atkins 2 0 0 0 2 0
Upper Perkiomen
Dyer (L) 5 9 8 6 3 6
Gray 1 4 3 3 0 0



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