By: John Knebels
Photos/Videos: Kathy Leister & Jeremy Capella (CEC Jr. Reporter).
PHILADELPHIA – Archbishop Ryan was hosting Lansdale Catholic. Both teams entered the contest undefeated, and this was a rematch of last year’s Catholic League title match.
In other words, in terms of a regular season Catholic League softball game, this one on April 9 was the most anticipated.
Behind strong pitching by sophomore Dana Bell and a resourceful offense, the defending champion Ragdolls edged the pesky Crusaders, 3-2, surviving a major scare in the seventh inning.
“We knew LC was gonna show up and bring their best, so we had to be prepared for a good game,” said Ryan senior Erin Woltemate. “We knew it wasn’t gonna be easy because the championship game was close as well. It was a tough game on both sides.”
At roughly the halfway point of the league schedule, Ryan is tied with Cardinal O’Hara with a 5-0 record. Lansdale Catholic is directly behind at 5-1.
For Bell, who last year emerged as the top pitcher in the league and has only gotten better as a sophomore, winning games like this are imperative because the pressure only becomes stronger once the playoffs commence.
“It was a tough game,” said Bell. “It took a little something from every person on that field to bring the win home. Lansdale’s pitcher (junior Mary Picozzi) gave us a run for our money, but our batters pulled through in key situations, which put us on top.
“Every time you play in a game like that, it is the championship all over again. I think having that win brought the team closer, knowing that we have what it takes to beat the best teams in the league and that we have to do it together as a team if we are going to be successful this year.”
Leading 3-0 in the seventh, Bell was one out away from a shutout when LC’s Jenny Llewellyn slammed a two-run homer. Suddenly it was a 3-2 game.
“I just thought in my head that I have my team behind me,” said Bell, “and we will get this done.”
Bell’s faith was rewarded when a ground out to second ended the game and drew a collective sigh of relief from the Ryan crowd.
For Lansdale Catholic, the loss was bittersweet. By taking the game to its final out, the Crusaders were reminded that they could compete with the PCL’s best.
Aforementioned senior Jenny Llewellyn admitted that hitting a home run off a pitcher of Bell’s caliber was a thrill.
“She is a very good pitcher, but I try to approach every game the same,” said Llewellyn. “I try to time her and learn how she pitches before my at bat. I had to shorten up my swing to be able to hit her, and when I did, I got ahold of it. It feels much better to hit like that off a great pitcher. It makes you feel more confident in later at bats.”
It also took away some of the sting of coming up just short; still, though, it hurt.
“We definitely felt even more motivated to try and get a win against them this year to make up for the loss in the final,” said Llewellyn. “Even though we lost again, it was still a close score, so hopefully maybe we will have another rematch.”
Two days later, Lansdale Catholic rebounded by shutting out visiting West Catholic. In a display of outstanding sportsmanship, the Crusaders invited the Lady Burrs to hang around and join them in a cookout.
After an hour and a half of playing softball, the consensus was that sharing hot dogs and hamburgers was more memorable and meaningful.
Lansdale Catholic & West Catholic share in a memorable post-game barbecue - Photo courtesy of LC's Rebecca Tiley
“It was so much fun,” said Llewellyn. “All the girls on West’s team are so nice and fun to be around. The cookout was such a great idea to just bring our teams together to have fun after the game.”
Lansdale Catholic senior Rebecca Tiley concurred.
“Over the course of my high school career, every time we take the long trip to West Catholic, we always come back saying how nice the other team was,” said Tiley.
“This year we wanted to really make them feel welcomed and appreciated.
“We all talked about our schools, best memories, and danced a lot. The girls were all so nice and appreciative, and overall we all had a great time. Often we don’t really get to know the other team, and this kind of showed how we all are alike in so many ways. It was definitely a memorable day for our team.”
Speaking of memorable, Conwell-Egan enjoyed an unforgettable 7-6 victory over visiting Archbishop Carroll on April 9.
The Eagles led by 3-2 in the top of the seventh, but Carroll, which had entered with a 4-1 record, responded with four runs to take a 6-3 lead. With two outs, the Eagles (2-3 and winners of two straight) regrouped and scored four runs, highlighted by junior Elizabeth Shire’s game-tying, two-run triple and junior Devyn Savage’s walk-off single.
“It was extremely important for the team,” said junior Alyssa Fagans, who started the rally. “It took a lot of teamwork and combined effort. One through three got on and four and five drove them in. We really needed this Catholic League win to stay in it.”
C-E coach Sandy Hart agreed.
“It was real big,” said Hart. “The schedule is tough. We had to regroup, and we did. It was a hard-fought battle.”
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Softball Philadelphia Catholic League Arch. Carroll Softball Arch. Ryan Softball Arch. Wood Softball Bishop McDevitt Softball Bonner & Prendie Softball Cardinal O'Hara Softball Conwell-Egan Softball John W. Hallahan Softball Lansdale Cath. Softball Little Flower Softball Saint Hubert Softball Neumann/Goretti Softball West Catholic Softball