BUCKTOWN >> Anna Sidlowski knows it sounds curious.
But according to the Garnet Valley junior pitcher, pressure isn’t just a privilege, it’s power.
“Honestly, when I’m in pressure situations I feel so much better, more confident. It’s really weird, but it helps me,” Sidlowski said. “I switch my mentality and get way more focused.”
Sidlowski’s love for those moments came through on five occasions with runners in scoring position during Wednesday’s District 1 Class 6A second round game at Owen J. Roberts and the right-hander came through coolly each time to deliver No. 9 Garnet Valley a 2-0 victory over No. 8 Owen J. Roberts.
Final: Garnet Valley 2, Owen J Roberts 0, District 1 6A softball playoffs.
Anna Sidlowski takes care of business in the circle to advance the Jaguars into the quarterfinals. Season-ender for the Wildcats. pic.twitter.com/9qayu5THkh
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) May 25, 2022
The Jaguars (18-4) advance to a quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 seed Pennsbury on Friday.
It was a textbook playoff softball performance from Sidlowski and the Jaguars, who blended clutch pitching, timely hitting and minimizing mistakes to return to the district quarters after being stopped in the second round a year ago. Sidlowski scattered eight hits, struck out four and walked none.
The result spoiled a 15-strikeout pitching performance from Wildcats junior right-hander Natalie Alldred. Alldred allowed just five hits and walked one.
Alldred was the offensive leader going 3-for-3 for the Wildcats (15-6) as part of their eight-hit attack. Senior Sophia Winnick had two hits as well, but OJR couldn’t string together the hits to generate runs.
“I feel like my defense definitely helped me out today,” Sidlowski said. “I don’t think I was as strong (pitching) as I normally am. But I feel like we definitely executed when we needed to. It proved how little mistakes can cost you.”
Jenna Fulmer’s one-out triple led to the game’s first run in the second inning, the sophomore coming home on a sacrifice bunt from Katelyn Dugery.
“It was great. She’s been stepping up,” said Sidlowski. “It’s great to see an underclassmen like her step up in a big situation. I was so happy for her. And then Kate executed the bunt – and she usually doesn’t bunt – so that made all of us really happy and excited for them.”
Sidlowski was the architect of the Jaguars’ sixth-inning run. She walked, advanced to second on a Anna Sareyka groundout, stole third base and ran home on the overthrow past third base for a 2-0 Jaguars advantage.
In OJR’s last chance, Rachel Epps singled and reached third, but Sidlowski locked in, got a game-ending strikeout and kept her scoreless streak that dates back to a May 9 defeat against Haverford.
She’s pitched four straight shutouts, blankings of Unionville and Chichester to close the regular season, plus Monday’s first round 2-0 win over No. 24 Abington.
“I worked really hard this winter to get where I am,” Sidlowski said about her current streak. “It’s taking opportunities, but also having fun because someone is going to win and someone is going to lose at the end of the day.”
“She was definitely a good pitcher, you have to be to get to round two of districts,” said OJR senior Sarah Gautreau. “We weren’t making the solid contact and getting the momentum we needed. Even when we had it, somehow it got stopped.”
The OJR bats cooled at the wrong time, suffering back-to-back postseason losses without generating a run after losing to Upper Perkiomen in the Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinals on May 17.
“We were on fire in the beginning of the season, but these last couple games it’s slowed down,” said senior Syd Campbell. “There’s still a bunch of hits, but it’s just not been as much.”
“Our hitting used to be way more contagious than it is right now,” said Gautreau.
Despite the disappointing close to the year, the Wildcats improved on last year’s 12-7 record, reached the PAC semifinals and matched that run by making the District 1 second round.
Above the results, OJR’s five seniors Campbell, Emmie Feltenberger, Gautreau, Courtney Glass and Winnick felt a team closeness greater than any they’d experienced before. The quintet came through the ranks together since third grade, often playing for current varsity coach Steve Winnick.
“We all have a really close bond,” said Feltenberger.
“We clicked right from the first game,” said Glass. “Everything worked, everyone together and cheering for each other.”
3B-Fulmer. SB-Sidlowski CS-Rogers 2. Sac-Dugery; Winnick, Flavin.
Owen J. Roberts