North Penn coach Rick Torresani, an assistant coach for the SOL/BAL Carpenter Cup squad, was the inspiration for his squad as it rolled to three straight wins Thursday and its first ever Carpenter Cup title.
PHILADELPHIA – A sudden burst of applause from the SOL/BAL squad’s bench in the sixth inning of Thursday’s Carpenter Cup title game against Lehigh Valley suggested that something special was happening.
North Penn coach Rick Torresani, an assistant to SOL/BAL coach Heather Boyer, was walking toward the field to join his squad for the game’s final inning, and no one could have been a more welcome sight.
Earlier in the day, in the third inning of the SOL/BAL’s come-from-behind 7-6 win over Berks County/Lebanon Lancaster, Torresani was struck in the head by a line drive foul off the bat of North Penn’s Michelle Holweger. He was transported by ambulance to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital where he was treated and released.
Torresani returned to FDR Park just in time to see his squad put the finishing touches on a 4-0 win over Lehigh Valley to clinch its first ever Carpenter Cup title.
“It’s unbelievable,” Torresani said. “My daughter and son-in-law picked me up (at the hospital), and I said, ‘They’re still playing, and that’s good news.’
“I don’t even know what to say. These kids are unbelievable. It goes to show you what good kids can do. I’m just glad to be part of the end of it with them.”
While understandably happy to be back for the celebration, Torresani, who was diagnosed with a concussion, had a greater motivation.
“I was hopeful I could get back in time and see (Holweger) first and see the rest of the girls and let them know I was okay,” Torresani said. “Heather said that when I was lying down and they were ready to put me in the ambulance that I said, ‘Tell Michelle it was an accident.’ I don’t remember that, but I’m just glad I’m walking around.”
“It was scary,” Holweger acknowledged. “I saw him go down. When I had to step in the box again after that – I had two strikes, and I was a little shaken up.
“To win this means a lot – we did it for him.”
The SOL/BAL – which won five straight games after dropping its third game of the day on Tuesday in the double elimination tournament - rallied from that early 4-0 deficit to earn the come-from-behind win over Berks County. The team followed that with back-to-back wins over previously undefeated Lehigh Valley to capture the coveted tournament title.
This was a gutsy, gritty performance by a squad that included three of Torresani’s North Penn players.
One of those players, sophomore Vicky Tumasz, came back and threw four strong innings in the SOL/BAL’s 7-2 win over Lehigh Valley, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out three.
“Today was probably the scariest day of my life,” Tumasz said. “I was really upset because I was really scared for Torresani because he’s kind of a father figure to me. He’s always been there for me, and I knew I had to do it for him.”
Maiden teammate Erin Maher, who delivered a clutch two-run single in her team’s 4-0 win over Lehigh Valley in the third game, echoed the sentiments of her teammate.
“Obviously when it happened, we were all very, very scared,” she said. “That was one of the scariest moments, and we were all glad to see him come back okay.
“All the girls were great about it – they were really supportive and really nice. Julia Schoenewald was with me the whole time, we gathered ourselves as a team, and coach Boyer said, ‘Now we have to do it for coach T.’ That’s when it switched from scary and sad to the determination that we had to do it for him.”
Torresani’s accident impacted everyone on the roster, not just his North Penn players.
“It was really scary,” Central Bucks East junior Julia Schoenewald said. “I was on deck, and I saw the whole thing, and I hit the ground just as fast as he did. I was so scared.
“It was hard. We were trying to support the North Penn girls. I played for Carpenter Cup last year, and he’s a great guy. I’ve gotten close with him, so it was really tough for me as well. He was calling the pitches with me, and we were working together to do that. I had to step up.”
Schoenewald, who was behind the plate for all 21 innings in the sweltering heat on Thursday, called the remaining games herself. It proved to be a winning combination for an SOL/BAL squad that simply would not be denied.
“We did it for coach Torresani,” Caroline Schoenewald said. “We wanted to do it for him. He deserves it.”