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SOFTBALL: Friends' Central Beats Academy of The New Church to Finish Regular Season Undefeated in League Play

By Jeremy Goode, 05/08/24, 8:45AM EDT


Phenom Pitcher Bri Keenan Continuesd to Be "Spot On"




BRYN ATHYN, PA-- The Friends' Central Phoenix softball team completed its undefeated Friends League schedule on Friday, May 3, by traveling to the Academy of the New Church and beating the Lions 4-1. Starting senior pitcher Brianna Keenan pitched a complete game.

“She was in the zone; nothing rocks her,” Friends' Central catcher Maia Sevin said. “That girl does exactly what you need to do every single time. It’s really special to watch.”

Sevin’s assessment of her teammate is pretty spot on. Rarely did ANC have any base runners, and Keenan struck out over a dozen batters. For whichever batters Keenan was not able to fool on her own; the defense behind her made the play to keep any possibility of a Lions scoring threat tamed. 

Fellow teammate Maria Morsa, who would knock in two runs in the top of the seventh off a single to give the Phoenix a three-run cushion, also sang the praises of the phenom pitcher. 

“Bri’s performance is always incredible,” Morsa said. “She shuts them down and holds her ground. She is always on her game and never in her head.”

Brianna Keenan

Friends' Central Senior Pitcher Brianna Keenan

Keenan was helped early on when the Phoenix were able to plate home a run in the top of the first. With the bases loaded, the Phoenix’s Calla McVail scored from third on a passed ball. The Lions would get out of the frame only down a run, but it was enough momentum to start Keenan on the right note. 

“It’s big to have lead starting out,” Keenan said. “It really hyped us up and our energy levels were incredible for this game.” 

The Phoenix would add on another run in the top of the third inning, with Maddy Jackson hitting a ground ball to shortstop. The throw went out of play, giving the Phoenix a 2-0 advantage. 

Jackson’s at bat set a theme and made the overall difference in the game. When needed, the Phoenix were able to put balls in play with runners in scoring position enough times to separate themselves from the Lions.

With both teams coming into the game undefeated in league play, sometimes a small detail like that is the only difference needed for one team. And it was critical here, because ANC’s starting junior pitcher Jamie Madara also dominated from the circle. 

Jamie Madara

Academy of The New Church Junior Pitcher Jamie Madara

The two runs the Phoenix scored would be the last until the seventh inning. Similarly to Keenan, Madeira also had more than a dozen strike outs while gathering several one-two-three innings to highlight strongly pitched top of the frames. 

“Their pitching was fabulous,” Morsa said. “She has a good mix of pitches in there. Their team is stacked. I really enjoy playing against them because it’s always a good game.”

It would not just be Madara’s strong pitching that kept the Lions in the game throughout. With the Lions down two runs and looking to get on the board in the bottom of the third inning, Madara drilled a solo home run over the centerfield fence. 

The next three innings would be scoreless. Both pitchers would shine, keeping the base paths clear and handling business quickly. 

It would not be until the top of the seventh inning when the Phoenix could give themselves some breathing room with additional run support. After striking out a couple times earlier in the game, with runners on second and third Morsa laced a single through the infield to right field, scoring both runs and giving the Phoenix a 4-1 led. 

Besides being timely for the Phoenix, Morsa’s hit was also timely for herself. The senior, who has committed to play softball at Stevenson University, had struck out two times earlier in the game. Regardless, her teammates were by her side and cheering her on during her third at bat in the seventh inning; Morsa believes that was a big influence. 

“I did not have a good start to the game offensively, but I needed to pick myself up, and my teammates could not have been better supporters,” Morsa said. “All I needed was a hit to get those runs in… and all of my teammates cheered me on. They were a big help. That’s all I was thinking about: let me make them happy and that will make me happy.”

Friends' Central in Final Season Game vs. Academy of The New Church. (video/ Jeremy Goode for PSD)

After Morsa’s hit, Keenan finished off what she started and got the last three outs against the Lions in the bottom of seventh to earn the complete game and secure an undefeated season in the Friends League. 

Like Morsa, Keenan attributed her pitching outing to her teammates.  

“The team definitely hyped me up a lot; they were loud, cheering on the fences,” Keenan said. “They play a big part in my pitching; I can’t do it alone.”

Indeed, several plays stood out defensively, including a few by Sevin behind the plate. She made a tag on a runner coming home for an out in the bottom of the first. She threw out Madara in the bottom of the six trying to steal third base in a one-run game. And for the finale, she dove and caught a pop fly in front of the plate for the final out. 

Sevin’s performance was especially noteworthy because her experience behind the plate began only as a freshman to help out temporarily at a needed position. She imagined she would go back to second or third base, but over time became a steady presence at the position behind the plate. 

“I kind of thing of it as any other position,” Sevin said. “Before high school, I’ve never been trained to catch, but I took the instincts I knew from playing second, playing third and apply it there.”

Academy of The New Church in Final League Game vs. Friends' Central. (video/ Jeremy Goode for PSD)

The Phoenix took care of business during the regular season, but they know there is still work to be done to win the Friends League Championship. 

“If we stay how we always are at practice; always put together… we make sure we get everything done, and if it’s not done right, we get it right before we go,” Morsa saId. “When we get back on Monday; we’ll get back to work.”