PROSPECT PARK — Kennett pitcher Genevieve Ebaugh had high praise for Interboro hurler Billy Kerwood after Ebaugh and the eighth-seeded Blue Demons upset Kerwood and the top-seeded Bucs, 2-1, in the quarterfinal round of the District 1 Class 5A softball playoffs.
“That’s the best pitcher we will see all year,” Ebaugh said. “She was really good.”
The feeling was mutual from Kerwood’s perspective, who called Ebaugh “a great pitcher.”
The showdown between Ebaugh and Kerwood was no ordinary pitcher’s duel. It was a battle between former teammates. Ebaugh and Kerwood played together for Chaos a few summers ago, when Kerwood was a rising sophomore and Ebaugh a freshman.
Afterward, the two shared a reunion, a few words and an embrace.
“I haven’t seen her since so it was really good to see her and play against her,” Ebaugh said.
That reunion came a few minutes after Interboro coach Chuck Pedrick informed the team in his post-game huddle that this was his final game. He is retiring after more than 30 years with the program, the last 26 as the head coach.
“It’s time,” Pedrick said. “I didn’t want to say anything before the game. They’ve been great kids through all the years. I figured it out with the help of somebody the other day that there have been over 400 girls who came through the program. It’s been a great career.”
Several of the players had tears in their eyes after the announcement.
“This is my favorite coach ever,” Kerwood said while standing next to Pedrick.
Ebaugh played a big part in bringing Pedrick’s career to a close and send the Blue Demons (14-7) into Friday’s semifinals against the winner of the game between fourth-seeded West Chester East and No. 5 West Chester Rustin. That contest was tied, 1-1, when it was suspended by lightning in the fifth inning. The game will resume Thursday at 4 p.m.
The junior hurler scattered four hits, fanned 15, walked three and got out of a second-and-third, two-out jam in the bottom of the seventh inning with a punchout.
“I mainly stayed on my movement and my movement was on today,” Ebaugh said.
Ebaugh also had a hand in both runs. She tripled and scored on Brooke Underwood’s bunt in the first inning and singled in Hannah Slicer in the second inning to give the Blue Demons a 2-0 lead.
“Usually when we get runners on we get nervous, but we stayed composed and got them in,” Ebaugh said. “I was really proud of us.”
Kerwood was just as effective. The Monmouth-bound senior only allowed three hits, none after the third inning, whiffed 13 and walked one. She retired 12 of the last 13 hitters she faced.
“I finally started to realize what they could and couldn’t hit and I was able to settle in,” Kerwood said. “We just couldn’t get our bats on the ball. We tried our best.”
Interboro had its chances. The Bucs (14-3) stranded eight runners, two at third base and four at second. Kayla Valver reached on an error with one out in the first inning and moved to second on Logan Stewart’s two-out infield hit but advanced no farther.
Maura Smith drew a one-out walk and stole second in the third inning but was left there. Stewart worked a leadoff walk in the fourth, then stole second and third but Ebaugh got back-to-back strikeouts and a ground ball to end that threat. Smith ripped a two-out single and stole second in the fifth only to be left there.
“We always start late and in these types of game you have to be aggressive and start early,” Stewart said.
The Bucs finally broke through in the sixth inning. Julia DiSands worked a leadoff walk. Erin O’Shea came into run for DiSands and stole second and third as Ebaugh racked up two more strikeouts. The rally appeared to end there but Sara Smith beat out an infield single on a high chopper to third base to score O’Shea and keep the rally alive. Smith advanced to third on a single by Jules LaFontano but Ebaugh struck out Dani Linker to end that threat.
An inning later, Ebaugh got a comebacker and two strikeouts to bring Interboro’s season to a close.
“It’s disappointing,” Stewart said. “I definitely thought we were going to go farther with the team that we had, but it was a great season overall.”