RED HILL >> The Owen J. Roberts softball team didn’t start the season with quite the results it would have hoped.
It’s not so easy playing without your “heart and soul” though.
With the return of senior catcher Casey Walker from injury on April 8, the Wildcats became whole again, and they’re hoping it can lead them in the right direction.
It did Wednesday at Upper Perkiomen as Walker went 4-for-4 with two doubles and the Wildcats used a five-run second inning to take down the Tribe, 8-3, in a Pioneer Athletic Conference crossover contest.
“Casey was working back from injury, and she didn’t play the first couple weeks of the season,” said fourth-year OJR coach Jen Beaver. “She’s stepped up and it’s like she hasn’t missed a beat. She’s done a great job coming back in.
“She’s a four-year starter, a two-year captain. She’s the heart and soul so it’s big now that she’s back.”
The La Salle University commit, who was nursing a bone bruise in her throwing arm, wasn’t the only OJR player swinging a strong bat Wednesday: Morgan Twaddell was 2-for-3 with two RBI, Madison Twaddell drove in two runs and Maddy Harvey (triple) and Emma Dibattista each had two hits.
“I feel good,” said Walker. “We were just seeing the ball and knew where she was throwing it and we just took it where she pitched it.”
Owen J. improved to 4-3 in the PAC (5-5 overall), Wednesday’s win more important than may normally be the case with a midseason crossover win. But in the ultra-competitive PAC Liberty Division with Methacton (6-2), Perkiomen Valley (5-3) and Boyertown (4-5) joining OJR in the chase pack behind powerhouse Spring-Ford (9-0), there’s little margin for error.
“We said that, from this point on we can’t take a game off,” Beaver said. “We have to be in there every game because every game has a huge impact. Everybody is beating everybody, and there are tons of good teams in this division and in this league so you really have to bring it everyday.
“I loved our energy (Wednesday). I felt like everyone was so focused and into the game the whole time. We didn’t let up and that’s something we’ve talked about a lot, making sure we keep the energy up and not leting off the gas.”
Upper Perkiomen fell to 5-2 in the PAC (8-3 overall) but remains in front of the PAC Frontier Division at 5-0, ahead of 4-2 Upper Merion.
Catcher Morgan Lindsay was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Alexa Banner had two hits as part of Upper Perk’s eight-hit offense.
The Indians entered Wednesday on a three-game winning streak, a good response after starting pitcher Taylor Croak was lost for the season with an ACL injury the first week of April.
Lily Dibble has stepped into the circle commendably. She went seven innings Wednesday, allowing 14 hits but only three earned runs – five of OJR’s were unearned – with two strikeouts and two walks.
“Today, we struggled with some defensive plays, but I’ve said this is the strongest team we’ve had in the last three or four years,” UP coach Dean Sullivan said. “They’re young; we’re starting three freshmen, three sophomores. They’ll get it.
“We’ll be able to compete. Hopefully the Frontier is still ours to win.”
OJR scored in each of the first four innings, the big blow being a five-run second inning where it benefitted from a two-out error after leading 2-0. The Wildcats capitalized on singles from Dibattista, Walker, Morgan Twaddell and a two-run double by Madison Twaddell for a 6-0 lead.
Sophomore second-year starter Sam Walsh got the pitching win for OJR, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings. Rachel Towler pitched a clean seventh inning in relief.
The battery of Walsh and Walker that led OJR to a 13-7 record in 2018 are together again, a positive sign for the Wildcats.
“I started in centerfield, then I came to catch,” Walker said of her journey as a four-year starter. “I’ve liked catching all the pitchers; I’ve had a couple different pitchers but they’ve all been good. (Walsh) threw last year and we keep getting to know each other better.”
“I do feel like everyone is just getting more comfortable with each other and it’s starting to get there,” Beaver said. “But we still have a lot of work to do. It’s still midseason and we’re not where I hope we are toward to end of the season.”
Owen J. Roberts 8, Upper Perkiomen 3
OWEN J ROBERTS UPPER PERKIOMEN
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Dibattista 5 1 2 1 Sullivan 4 1 1 0
Walker 4 2 4 1 Banner 4 0 2 0
MoTwaddell 3 1 2 2 Lindsay 4 0 2 2
Feltenberger 1 0 0 0 Fretz 2 0 0 0
MaTwaddell 4 0 1 2 Freer 3 0 0 0
Sylvia 4 0 1 1 Bernhart 3 1 2 0
Harvey 3 2 2 0 Joyce 3 0 0 0
Daubert 2 0 1 1 Gooch 2 0 1 1
Murray 1 1 0 0 Kooser 2 1 1 0
Walsh 3 0 0 0
Towler 1 0 1 0
Skonieczny 3 1 0 0
Totals 34 8 14 8 Totals 27 3 9 3
Owen J. Roberts 151 100 0 — 8
Upper Perkiomen 001 011 0 — 3
E — UP 3. 2B-Walker 2, Madison Twaddell; Kooser, Lindsay. 3B-Harvey.
IP H R ER BB SO
Owen J. Roberts
Walsh (W) 6.0 8 3 3 1 3
Towler 1.0 1 0 0 0 1
Dibble (L) 7.0 14 8 3 2 2