LANSDALE >> Abby Burns took care of the pitching and her defense took care of the rest.
The Souderton freshman righty had it going from the start with battery-mate Alina Skrzat Monday afternoon on the road at Lansdale Catholic and when she did make a mistake, her defense had her back. It was an all-around strong game in the field for Souderton, which mixed in enough offense to get the job done.
Burns’ two-hitter, backed by a handful of excellent defensive plays, lifted Souderton to a 4-1 win over the Crusaders to start an important week.
“We’ve discussed it before that pitching and defense is what wins games,” Souderton coach Liz Parkins said. “Today we had both of them. Abby threw really well, she was a little shaky in the fourth inning but came right back, focused in and shut them down and she had a really strong defense behind her today.”
The changeup was the pitch of the day for both Souderton’s Burns and Lansdale Catholic pitcher Megan Burns, with both right-handers subsisting on a steady diet of them to try and keep the opposing lineups off-balance. Souderton did just a little better with it on both ends, collecting seven hits and keeping LC to just two.
Abby Burns also thrived against the top of LC’s order, holding the Crusaders top four hitters to a combined 1-for-11. Parkins, a former pitcher, likes to step out of the way and let Skrzat call her own pitches and the Indians’ battery was working well.
“I always feel confident I have my infield to back me up, so I’m not afraid to let them hit it,” Burns said. “That was huge, I felt really good about keeping them quiet.”
Burns recorded three of her six strikeouts against the top four in LC’s lineup.
“That’s definitely a win in our books,” Skrzat said.
Despite taking the loss, Megan Burns battled well all afternoon in the circle for LC. Mary Picozzi had one of the team’s two hits with a well-hit fourth inning double and shortstop Julia Marozzi, who had a good game defensively, had the other on a single in the fourth.
A couple mistakes, plus a few runners left on base ended up hurting the Crusaders in the long run. It also didn’t help that seemingly every well-hit ball off the bat of an LC player ended up as part of a defensive gem for Souderton.
“We were competitive, we left a runner on third in one inning, another we had a chance to get a couple more,” LC coach Paul Suder said. “Their one run was on a ball that probably should have been caught in the outfield. But it was a competitive game and that’s all you want from your nonleague. (Souderton) is a good team.”
Suder credited Abby Burns’ changeup, saying the Souderton pitcher did a really good job of keeping her pitches at the hands of the LC hitters and off the middle part of the plate. He also felt the Indians’ defense was really strong.
Right fielder Riley York had the highlight of the day, making a diving catch in the bottom of the third to rob a hit from Casey Meenan and she tracked down another tricky fly ball for the first out of the seventh inning. Left fielder Sam Nuneviller, who drove in the Indians’ first run, made a good grab on a liner off the bat of Becca Tiley in the sixth with an LC runner on first base.
Souderton’s infield was also strong, especially on the left side. Shortstop Jess Lepore had a couple strong plays on ground balls in the hole while third baseman Jen Klepfer played a terrific game making two difficult plays on hard-hit ground balls and another sharp play on a sac bunt.
“That just keeps me going,” Burns said. “I don’t ever feel like I need to back down. I feel good about having my infield there to back me up.”
“It fuels us as a team too,” Skrzat added. “It fires us all up after those kind of plays.”
After a Burns single, stolen base and error, Nuneviller’s RBI groundout spotted Souderton a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The Indians tacked on two more in the third thanks to an RBI double for Skrzat and RBI single by York and got their final insurance run on a no-doubt homer by Naila Neely to left field in the fourth.
Skrzat is in her second season as Souderton’s starting catcher and even with a freshman pitcher, Parkins said she wants the battery to do as much of the work on their own as possible.
“I really enjoy it, my favorite part of the game is calling pitches,” Skrzat said. “It’s fun trying to figure out what’s working for us and I always get to see where Abby is at in the game. I love it when she throws that perfect changeup.”
“Any time she calls a pitch, I’m pretty much thinking the exact same thing. I never have to shake her off,” Burns said. “She frames so well, I get so many calls that are not strikes and I know it.”
Souderton has three more games on deck this week and four more next week. The No. 9 seed in the District 1-6A power rankings going into Monday, the Indians will have the chance to determine their postseason fate in that span.
While the game doesn’t affect LC’s postseason, it was a good look at a quality opponent. That’s something the Crusaders will try to put to work in PCL games this week with Hallahan and Conwell-Egan.
“We hit the ball hard, they just made the plays,” Suder said. “The third baseman had two really nice plays that if the ball gets by her, they’re doubles and easily could have turned into runs. We’ll take it and learn from it.”
SOUDERTON 4, LANSDALE CATHOLIC 1
SOUDERTON 012 100 0 – 4 7 1
LANSDALE CATHOLIC 000 100 0 – 1 2 1
WP: Abby Burns. LP: Megan Burns. SO-BB: A Burns 6-1, M Burns 5-2.
HR: S – Naila Neely. 2B: S – Jen Klepfer, Alina Skrzat; LC – Mary Picozzi. Multiple hits: S – Abby Burns 2-3, Klepfer 2-4.