skip navigation

SOFTBALL: St. Hubert Opens Season With Win vs. Neumann-Goretti

By Mark Zimmaro, 04/03/23, 8:45PM EDT




PHILA.-- Blonde or brunette, Alyse Jewell can rock any hair style.

The Saint Hubert High School junior normally lets her blonde braided hair fly as she chases down fly balls in left field. After the game was a different story as she wore a celebratory brown wig that has become a new tradition for the Bambies’ softball team.

St. Hubert was all smiles after an 11-0 victory over Neumann-Goretti as both teams opened Philadelphia Catholic League play for the 2023 season on Wednesday, March 29th. Jewell got to wear the player of the game wig for knocking in four runs in just two at-bats as she singled twice with the bases loaded.

“I’ve been working on my hitting,” Jewell said. “Last year I struggled a lot at the plate, so this season, it’s good to see the ball and I’m seeing it good now. We’ve had a few scrimmages and games and I feel like I was doing pretty good.”

Jewell might have had the best day but there were plenty of other candidates who were close to wearing the wig. The tradition started when catcher Madi Curry wore it during a recent 7th grade visitation skit at school to welcome potential future Bambies.

St. Hubert junior outfielder Alyse Jewell feels confident in her team's ability this season. (Video/ Mark Zimmaro for PSD)

“At Hubert’s we have these skits, so we just recently did our 7th grade visitation and (Curry) had to wear a wig,” said senior pitcher Maura Gorman, who threw two no-hit innings against the Saints. “So, she brought the wig to practices and games and was putting it on people as a joke. Now the player of the game has to wear the wig to practice until the next game.”

Gorman describes it as “Justin Bieber hair.”

“It's brown and kind of swooped over the side,” Gorman said with a laugh. “It’s hilarious. But now everyone wants to wear it. It’s the game wig.”

And if early it looks like there will be plenty of opportunities to share the prized headgear. St. Hubert proved it has a deep lineup during a 3-0 start to the season, which also included victories over Nazareth Academy and Friends Select. The Bambies have annually finished in the top half of the PCL standings in recent years and won it all in 2019. This year’s squad is headed in the right direction, even if it had to wait an extra day after a date with Conwell-Egan was postponed the day prior.

St. Hubert senior pitcher Maura Gorman talks about how this opening game is both bitter and sweet. (video/ Mark Zimmaro for PSD)

“It feels good to start the (PCL) season with a win,” Jewell said. “We were supposed to play Egan yesterday, but it got canceled. So, this is a good way to start off the season.”

The team was hoping to get early revenge against Conwell-Egan after the Eagles knocked them out of the playoffs last year. But the game will be rescheduled.

“It was exciting throughout the day and then we were so mad and angry because that’s a big game for us. It’s who we lost to last year in the playoffs.”

The Bambies put in a hard practice instead and took it out on Neumann-Goretti 24 hours later.

“I think this is the year, I think this is our year,” said Gorman, who is the only senior on the team. “We just feel like winners and we just always want to be on top.”

For Neumann-Goretti, it’s another year of growth. The Saints rejoined the PCL last year after a two-year absence during the pandemic. Things are tough in the early going as the Saints have just nine players in uniform. But they play good defense, and they play hard. They are still laying down a foundation for future teams.

“I feel like the more we play and the more we practice together as a team, we build better relationships, which helps us play better on the field,” said senior catcher Riana Matkowski.

Neumann-Goretti Senior catcher Riana Matkowski says despite having only a 9 team roster they are up to the challenge. (video/ Mark Zimmaro for PSD)

There’s no breaks with only nine. But so far, the Saints are enduring the challenge.

“It’s a little different because you do want to work with a full roster with 12 or 13 girls,” Matkowski said. “But we work with what we have and they pour all their effort in and that’s all that really matters.”

Saints second-year coach Brian Sitongia said there’s relief on the horizon as he expects an uptick next year from a strong incoming class. This year’s team is taking some of the hits to be a better team in the years to come. Sophomore center fielder Caitlyn Coghlan figures to be one of those players to see the rewards.

“I think we’re getting better,” said Coghlan, who ripped a triple against St. Hubert. “I think hitting the ball, fielding, pitching, it’s all improving.”