TOWAMENCIN >> Casey Sokol delivered in a tight spot and Julia Shearer delivered all afternoon, as North Penn battled its way to a 3-2, 10-inning victory over Plymouth Whitemarsh in the District 1-6A semifinals on Tuesday.
With runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the 10th, Sokol lifted a fly ball to right, scoring Isabella Tubertini to end it.
“I was just thinking: make hard contact,” Sokol said happily afterwards. “I knew (prior to that at-bat), I was getting under it, but I knew if I could get under it and hit it hard, that’s all I needed.”
The top-seeded Knights (23-0) got the run they needed, with Shearer retiring 20 batters in a row down the stretch. The lefty finished with 21 strikeouts in the victory.
“When it got to the seventh and eighth (inning), I thought this should make me tired, but I was more hyped up than anything,” said North Penn’s ace. “I think my adrenaline was really rushing. I thought my arm would be tired but the excitement won over everything.”
The victory sends the defending district champs back to the final, to take on No. 10 Haverford on Thursday at Spring-Ford at a time to be determined.
No. 12 Plymouth Whitemarsh will take on sixth-seeded Downingtown East in the third-place game.
“Julia pitched a great game,” North Penn coach Rick Torresani said. “(PW pitcher Molly Moore) was outstanding. They made every play. Both teams did. It was a great game. PW is really well coached and their kids are playing really well. They’re gonna do some damage.”
North Penn jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first.
Shearer led off with a double, Sarah Sabocsik had a bunt single, and Annabelle Smink’s sac fly to right scored Shearer to make it 1-0. A hard-hit single to the left side by Brie Wilmot brought in Sabocsik and it was 2-0 Knights.
Moore settled in pretty nicely after that though, keeping North Penn scoreless until the 10th.
“In the beginning of the game, I was throwing around the plate, trying to get more of the called strikes, but that’s a good lineup,” Moore said, “and they’re gonna hit anything around the plate. Sometimes you gotta be a little wild to change (the opponent’s) eye sight and move the ball around. And I think that’s what worked.”
That allowed the Colonials to even things up.
PW cut the margin to 2-1 in the third on an RBI double by Caelin Kosvitch and then tied it at two apiece in the fourth when Moore doubled and eventually scored on a ground ball by Sam Skivo, beating the throw to the plate.
Shearer didn’t allow anything the rest of the way, striking out eight of the next nine batters and retiring 20 straight to close it out.
“Before the game, our approach was hard stuff,” said Shearer. “Their two and three hitters (Kosvitch and Moore) were getting on top of my rise balls. So after that, we cut that completely out. I started throwing my change-up and it came in clutch. Adjusting throughout the game was definitely key.”
With a mix of speed and her devastating change-up, Shearer kept the visitors scoreless the rest of the way.
In the 10th, each team was awarded a runner at second to start the inning.
Tubertini was on second for the Knights when Bella Nunn drew a one-out walk. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, setting the table for Sokol.
“Just to play in a district championship game (Thursday) means the world to me,” Sokol said.
The Colonials will look to grab the No. 3 seed out of District One.
“We knew what we were getting from Julia. She is a phenomenal pitcher,” PW coach Mike Perez said. “Once she started mixing the change-up in, we were in trouble. But we knew that was coming.
“Molly has been phenomenal this postseason. She’s hitting spots, keeping everybody off balance. She’s jamming kids and putting it right where we need it to make plays. And our defense has been phenomenal.”
District 1-6A Semifinal
North Penn 3, Plymouth Whitemarsh 2 (10)
PW 001 100 000 0 – 2 2 0
North Penn 200 000 000 1 – 3 6 1
WP: Julia Shearer (10IP, 2R, 1ER, 2H, 21K, 0BB, 1HBP).
LP: Molly Moore (92/3IP, 3R, 3ER, 6H, 3K, 1BB).
2B: PW-Caelin Kosvitch, Moore; NP-Shearer.
Multiple hits: NP-Shearer 2-for-4, R.