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Softball: In Battle between Two Undefeated Teams, Archbishop Ryan Defeats Archbishop Carroll

By John Knebels (photos/videos by John Knebels), 05/06/21, 12:15AM EDT


By John Knebels

Videos/Photos by John Knebels

RADNOR – Lots can happen between now and the postseason, but when Archbishop Ryan traveled to Archbishop Carroll Tuesday afternoon for a much-anticipated softball showdown, it was clearly a combat between the two best teams in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Behind superb pitching by freshman Emma McDermott and five runs over the final three innings, the visiting Ragdolls clipped the Lady Patriots, 6-2. Ryan improved its record to 7-0 with two league games remaining; with three contests left, Carroll fell to 5-1.

“I trust the varsity defense a lot,” said McDermott, referring to several strong plays behind her. “I think they’re all amazing players and they all have my back.

“I was a little nervous before the game, but once I got here and we started warming up, I was just fine. I just relaxed myself and smiled and went out there.”

In easily her most important varsity performance, McDermott allowed four hits and two walks and struck out seven over seven innings. After scoring two first-inning runs, Carroll managed only five base runners over the final six innings.

The Ragdolls’ offense struggled early. Through four innings, their only run came via an RBI single by senior Reilly Mehaffey. In the fifth, Ryan tied the game on senior Lauren Hagy’s two-out RBI single.

Meanwhile, despite a very tight strike zone by the home-plate umpire, McDermott used her signature screwball to keep Carroll off balance. Outside of junior Cheyenne Niehoff and sophomore Lauren Martin’s two hits apiece, Carroll reached base four times on two walks, a hit batter, and an error.

Archbishop Ryan vs. Archbishop Carroll game highlights. (video/John Knebels for PSD)

Ryan freshman pitcher Emma McDermott tossed the best game of her career.

“Emma stayed aggressive and attacked the zone,” said Ryan senior catcher Deanna Moser. “She was really great. She dominates the plate, so it’s always great to catch behind someone like that.”

In the sixth, Mehaffey supplied the Ragdolls with their first lead on a sharp single that scored junior Mackenzie Reed, who pinch ran after sophomore Jeannine Swift drew a one-out walk. A wild pitch plated freshman Kayla Gray to double Ryan’s lead to 4-2.

Asked about her approach to such a key moment, Mehaffey downplayed what ultimately went down as a game-winning hit.

“Just try to clear my mind,” said the leadoff hitter. “I don’t really think anything. I just know that I have to get this run in. It was very relieving. I was glad we were finally getting ahead of it.”

Ryan Senior catcher Deanna Moser talks about the great performance of battery-mate Emma McDermott.

Ryan Senior Reilly Mehaffey got down to business & provided the go-ahead run on a sixth-inning single

In the seventh, following a single by Moser, sophomore Sabrina Pastino tattooed a fastball over the right-center-field fence, the two-run homer pretty much icing the triumph.

When she reached home plate, the entire team was there to celebrate her second round tripper of the season.

“My first two or three at bats didn’t go too well for me,” said Pastino, who had struck out, chopped an infield single, and popped out to second. “My confidence was kind of low and it was getting into my head a little bit.

Ryan Sophomore Sabrina Pastino supplied insurance with a two-run bomb over the left-centerfield fence in the seventh inning.

Ryan Senior standout Dana Bell walked four times and made a sensational back-hand stop at shortstop.

“My teammates helped me build my confidence back up, and I just relaxed and hit it. Even if I didn’t hit that home run, our confidence was still through the roof, and I feel like we would have come out on top.” 

All that was left was for McDermott to prevent any drama in the seventh. After a one-out error, she induced a pair of groundouts, the last one into the steady glove of senior Dana Bell.

In the third inning, Bell had made an outstanding backhand snag of a hard-hit grounder, firing a strike to Pastino at first base. Arguably the league’s best slugger, Bell was given nothing to hit and tied a Ryan record with four walks. She avoided the temptation to swing at pitches out of the strike zone when the count had reached full.

“I go in that box and I want to hit the ball and I want to run the bases,” said Bell. “But I have to do what my team needs me to do, and if it means taking four walks, then it’s taking four walks.

“Coming into this game, we knew they were going to have some great hitters, especially the top of their lineup with their slappers. Along with Emma, our defense was going to keep us in the game. We knew Carroll was going to put the ball in play, so we had to stay confident there. Just have to trust in your abilities.”


(Contact John Knebels at or on Twitter @johnknebels.)