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SOFTBALL: Continued Winning Streaks and Playoff Contentions Lead This Week's FSL Notebook

By Mark Zimmaro, 04/24/23, 4:45PM EDT



(Photos by Mark Zimmaro & Kathy Leister. Video by Mark Zimmaro)

Falcons on Par for Playoff Action

PHILA.-- For Friends Select School, there’s a little bit more on the line when it comes to playoff qualification in Friends School League softball.

Owners of the longest playoff streak in the league, the Falcons have been a participant in the FSL postseason every year since 2010. The goal is always to add one more year to that tally.

“We’ve made the playoffs for about 12 seasons in a row and we take pride in the fact that it's never a rebuilding year,” said Friends Select coach Bill Klose. “We graduated one of the best players in the league and we hear other teams saying this is their year to make the playoffs. If you do the math, only four teams make the playoffs and we really, really want to be one of those four teams.”

The Falcons are hoping to make it to lucky 13 this spring (there were no playoffs in 2020) but they have their work cut out for them. With every team completing between three and five of their seven league games heading into the new week, the standings — and expectations — are starting to take shape.

Friends Select is 3-1, but still has Academy of the New Church (4-0) , Shipley (4-0) and Friends Central (2-2) on their schedule. Add in Westtown Friends (3-2) who defeated the Falcons earlier and it seems there are five teams vying for four chairs. One will be out when the music stops.

The game on May 2 against defending champ Friends Central is probably the key game, but taking one from Shipley or ANC would certainly better the Falcons’ chances.

“We always say win enough in April so the games in May matter,” Klose said. “And that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Friends Select’s 12-season playoff streak is the longest current streak in the Friends League. During that time, the Falcons won three championships and played in the final two other times. The history lessons certainly haven’t been lost on the players.

“It’s extremely important (to make the playoffs),” said senior outfielder Sami Giganti. “I know personally, to all the girls, the team and to the program – we’ve made the playoffs as many years as I can remember. That’s what we came to do.”

Junior infielder Nora Marwaha has been one of the catalysts, stepping into a larger role.

“Nora has been amazing,” Klose said. “She’s a pretty reserved kid and we had a conversation a few weeks ago and I told her that she should be our best player. She looked at me like ‘what are you talking about?’ We have all these great players like Sami and Sofia and all these other girls who have done it and been there. We just need her confidence to match the confidence we have in her. Now she’s hitting about .600 and batting third for us."

Friends Select School's Sami Giganti talks about the importance of making the playoffs. (Video/ Mark Zimmaro for PSD)

Friends Select junior infielder Nora Marwaha contributes versitility on the field. (Video/ Mark Zimmaro for PSD)

She also plays everywhere in the infield including third base, second base and first base.

“She’s really stepping up for us and we’re following that lead,” Klose said. She’s hitting the cover off the ball and we’re excited about that.”

Marwaha accepted the challenge, but admits it’s her teammates who help fuel her.

“I definitely think I’ve been taking on a bigger role this year,” Marwaha said. “There’s a lot of energy on this team that really keeps us pumped up and confidence is really key. We can count on everyone throughout the entire (batting) order to get their bat on the ball all game.”

Tigers having fun in the sun

Germantown Friends ended up on the short end of a wild 14-10 game against Friends Select, but the Tigers are learning to compete with the tougher teams. It started early in the season on a trip to Myrtle Beach where the team played three games in the Ripken Experience in South Carolina during spring break.

“This team is thrilling to be a part of,” said Germantown Friends coach Alison Hammond. “Part of the fun of it is that they are great at staying the course and keeping the energy high. We had a really nice spring break trip where we were able to consolidate a few things there. And we’re still a relatively young team.”

It was a bonding trip that figures to pay off for years to come as the Tigers’ roster is heavy with freshmen and sophomores.

“This team is really good at picking each other up and trying to make sure everyone feels included,” Hammond said. “This is a team that is very confident in one another and they pump each other up. I hope that a season from now, or two seasons from now, especially when our sophomores now are senior leaders, that they’ll have this feeling of confidence when they take the field.”

Friends School League Standings as of games played through 4/23

Academy of the New Church  4-0, 7-1

Shipley 4-0, 9-1

Friends Select 3-1, 6-5 

Westtown 3-2, 4-4

Friends' Central 2-2, 3-2 

Germantown Friends 1-3, 1-3 

Abington Friends 0-4, 0-5 

George School 0-4, 2-7 

A Schure Thing

Germantown Friends senior catcher Caroline Schure remembers being the young kid on the squad, enjoying some early softball experience as an eighth-grader in 2019.

The Tigers went 6-5 in league play and qualified for the playoffs. She’s come a long way since then.

“It's been an amazing five years,” Schure said. “When I came in eighth grade, it was the best group. The upperclassmen were amazing and we had a great run that year. I remember being in eighth grade, I was the baby of the team and a prankster and a jokester. Now as a captain, it’s been really amazing to teach my younger teammates about the sport and watch them grow.”

Germantown Friends School senior catcher Caroline Schure talks about team strengths (video/ Mark Zimmaro for PSD)

One of those younger players is her sister Julia Schure, who is a freshman and making quite the impact, batting in the meat of the Tigers’ lineup. The Schure sisters played together last year as Julia made her first appearance as an eighth-grader, following her big sister’s footsteps. It’s been a proud moment after proud moment for the older sibling. She said she’s looking forward to seeing Julia and her other teammates take over the team next year.

“I think I’m leaving the team in good hands,” said Caroline, who will study either business or engineering at George Washington University next year. “We have one junior and a lot of sophomores who are going to take really good care of this program.”

Shipley on Hot Streak

Shipley School continues to add to its impressive regular season winning streak against Friends School League opponents. The Gators are 4-0 so far this spring in FSL play and have stretched their regular season winning streak to 31 games, which dates back to the start of a perfect 2019 regular season. The Gators did lose in the championship games in 2019 and 2022, but the last time the Gators lost in the regular season was May 8, 2018, in a 17-16 loss to Westtown Friends in the regular season finale.

Shipley will look to finish 2023 on a clean slate with upcoming games against Friends' Central (April 25), Friends Select (April 28) and ANC (May 2).

Going Clubbing

In fairness, Westtown was missing their ace Lucia Sanchez, who was away on a robotic trip for her school, but Academy of the New Church took full advantage in clubbing 19 hits in route to a 21-10 victory last week to stay perfect (4-0) in FSL play.

Jamie Madara led the Lions with a home run, a double and a pair of singles (three RBIs). Olivia Schriver contributed a pair of triples in a three hit performance and Morgan Henderson delivered a trio of singles in the win.

Academy of the New Church Pitcher Jamie Madara. (Photo/ Kathy Leister for PSD)

Academy of The New Church on senior day in game vs. Germantown Friends on 4/14. (Photo/ Kathy Leister for PSD)