TOWAMENCIN >> Samantha McHugh tries to have a clear mind when she is up to bat.
“I absolutely hit best when there’s just not a thought in my head,” Lansdale Catholic softball’s senior catcher said. “But I always try to make sure I’m in that mentality every time I’m up to the play no matter what the situation is.”
With the Crusaders trailing host Dock Mennonite 2-1 and down to their last out, McHugh came through to clear a pair of runners from the bases with a two-RBI single to give LC the lead in the top of the seventh inning.
“Honestly, I’m so locked in, I can’t even have a thought go through my mind,” McHugh said. “I just have to be like OK, I got to hit this. I don’t really have a choice.”
Lansdale Catholic added three more runs after McHugh’s go-ahead hit, the five-run seventh rallying the Crusaders to a 6-3 nonleague victory over the Pioneers Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s a really young team so I think that we’re a little lacking in confidence,” said McHugh, one of just three seniors on the Crusaders. “But once they just know that they can put the ball in play good things happen. So I think it was just the epiphany moment that we could hit the ball, that we could get around on her (Aubrey Gahman) cause she’s a pretty quick pitcher but she was hittable.”
McHugh, a Widener University commit, finished 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs while starting pitcher Lauren Leshak struck out 15 – including seven straight in the early innings – in a complete-game victory. The sophomore right-hander allowed three runs – two earned – on seven hits and two walks.
“Her spins looked great today,” said McHugh of Leshak. “Those were great, those were really what helped clinched the win.”
Dock righty Gahman took the loss but the sophomore registered 13 strikeouts while at the plate was 3-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored. In the circle she gave up six runs – three earned – on five hits and seven walks in seven innings.
Freshman shortstop Addison Landis, who batted leadoff, went 2-for-4 for the Pioneers (1-2).
“That’s the best game Aubrey’s ever pitched here at Dock, anyway, so I was really proud of her,” Dock coach Wayne Benner said. “Her speed was up there for her and what was nice for us was this is our fourth game including a scrimmage, maybe not by miles per hour, that’s not the fastest pitcher we saw but she’s a good pitcher – she had a rise, she could throw nice pitches. And I just think we looked pretty good against her all-and-all.”
Dock, which has just two seniors, starts Bicentennial Athletic League play Thursday hosting The Christian Academy at 4 p.m.
Lansdale Catholic has another nonleague game at home 3:45 p.m. Monday against Notre Dame-Green Pond before opening its Philadelphia Catholic League schedule at Cardinal O’Hara 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 30.
It was a scoreless pitchers’ duel for three frames before Gahman led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple then scored Wednesday’s first run on a Trinity Landis RBI single.
“She’s a pretty decent hitter,” said Benner of Gahman. “She’s led off for us, hit second, I got her at third now. Kind of our top three I can move around quite a bit, juggle ‘em. She plays so she knows, you can see it on the bases, you can see it in the field.
“I went to her first and told her I was especially proud of how hard she played today. She did a good job. Hey, sometimes your best game you ever play is one you lose unfortunately.”
McHugh pulled the Crusaders (2-1) level with a two-out RBI single in the top of the fifth but in the bottom of the inning a Gahman RBI base hit put Dock (1-2) up 2-1.
In the top of the seventh, Julia Gottshall – LC’s No. 9 hitter – led off by reaching on an error. Leshak followed with a walk with Nicole Tralies dropping a bunt single to load the bases with no outs.
“We’re working right now on just being competitive – confidence and (being) competitive,” LC coach Paul Suder said. “And hopefully by the middle of the year you get that and it can earn you some base hits and win you some games down the line. Right now, that’s all we’re trying to do, is get ‘em competitive and confident.”
After an infield pop out, Gottshall attempted to score on a wild pitch but Dock catcher Erin Miles flipped the ball to Gahman to tag out the sliding Gottshall at home for the second out.
“I thought she left right away, it’s just sometimes you can’t get ’em,” said McHugh, who was at bat on the play. “But it was good hustle and in the end it didn’t matter but you got to respect the hustle. We had to go for it in that moment.”
With runners at second and third, McHugh connected for a base hit that plated both and had her ending up on second base with the Crusaders leading 3-2.
An error on Ella Moran’s fly ball to left center brought in a run to make it 4-2 with another error allowing Moran to reach third. Moran scored on an RBI single by Ava Coughlin, who stole two bases then came home on a wild pitch for a 6-2 lead.
“Once we got on base, we were going to run. We were going to make them throw us out and stuff like that. And we got a few breaks there and moved runners up and got some timely hits. We were due – we were due to hit the ball really.”
Eden Schrag started the Dock half of the seventh reaching on an error after her fly to right. After a ground out and a strike out, Gahman’s RBI single to right scored Schrag but Leshak struck out the next batter to seal LC’s comeback win.