The SOL/BAL compiled a 2-1 record in its first day of Carpenter Cup competition on Tuesday. The squad will return to action in the double elimination tournament at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
Hits were not all that easy to come by on the first day of Carpenter Cup competition for the Suburban One/Bicentennial squad. The team collected six hits in a 4-1 win over Tri-Cape in its first game on Tuesday and then came back to get six more in a 2-1 win over Burlington County.
The SOL/Bicentennial squad managed just three hits in its final game of the day, and that wasn’t quite enough to defeat a Berks County team that went on to earn a 4-1 win.
“One of the bigger things is a lot of these kids – because of the rules that are in place – only get one plate appearance or maybe two,” said Upper Dublin coach Heather Boyer, the head coach of the SOL/BAL. “So it’s hard to get your groove, and if you’re a younger hitter, it’s a little bit of experience to really attack the ball in the one plate appearance you get and make something happen.”
Berks County scored the only runs it would need in a three-run outburst in the top of the first and, for good measure, tacked on a run in the fourth to go on top 4-0. The SOL/BAL broke up the shutout bid in the sixth inning.
Central Bucks West’s Amanda Wolfgang, who was hit by a pitch to open the inning, scored when North Penn’s Michelle Holweger collected a clutch two-out single for the 4-1 final.
Holweger accounted for two of her team’s three hits while William Tennent’s Nikki Alden had the other.
Earlier in the afternoon, the SOL/BAL staged a late game rally to eke out a 2-1 win over Burlington County.
With Burlington County on top 1-0 after plating a first inning run, things didn’t look all that promising for an SOL/BAL squad that had managed just two hits heading into the seventh inning – Central Bucks East’s Jessica Haug roped a one-out double to right field in the second, and Wolfgang led off the third with a single.
Things changed in a hurry in the seventh. It all began with Pennridge’s Paige DeCew ripping a double into the gap in deep left center.
“I felt a lot of pressure, but I knew we had to win the game,” DeCew said. “I knew we had to step up.
“It was kind of frustrating because I hadn’t gotten a hit that game, and I didn’t want to let my team down.”
Central Bucks West’s Jessica D’Agostino, who entered the game in the fifth inning, followed with an RBI single to right field to knot the score 1-1.
“You just to watch the pitcher and adjust to it – watch the pitcher throw and go with the pitches,” D’Agostino said. “You just have to relax and do your best, do your job.”
The SOL/BAL wasn’t finished yet. Wolfgang delivered a two-out single, and then Central Bucks East’s Caroline Schoenewald drove home the game winner with an RBI single to left.
“It’s fun,” Boyer said. “It’s an interesting dynamic because you are dealing with the best of the best in Suburban One, but you also have to find a way for them to get to know one another quickly and work well together.
“We’ve had a couple of practices, but you can attribute that to the girls. They really have stepped out of their comfort zones and worked to get to know each other on the field, so they can jell together quickly.”
North Penn sophomore Vicky Tumasz threw the first three innings, allowing three hits and one run. William Tennent sophomore Nikki Alden allowed two hits in four scoreless innings on the mound to earn the win. Both pitchers fanned a pair.
“It’s really hard for the pitcher-catcher combination because we don’t have a consistent battery from one school,” Boyer said. “Nikki Alden has a ball that moves all over the place, and you’re not used to catching that consistently, so Ang (LaMaina) did a great job in game two, and Julia Schoenewald, a two-year Carpenter Cup player, caught the entire first game for us and did a great job for us.”
It was Julia Schoenewald who stole the spotlight in the SOL/BAL’s 4-1 win over Tri-Cape to start the day. The junior catcher stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth inning of a 1-0 contest and smacked a double to right center, emptying the bases and giving the SOL/BAL a 4-0 lead. Caroline Schoenewald and Holweger both had singled earlier in the inning.
“I think the key is watching the other girls’ at-bats and talking about what to look out for, what the umpire’s strike zone is and what the pitcher is throwing,” said Julia Schoenewald, who led the SOL/BAL with a pair of hits.
Tri-Cape plated a single run in the sixth.
Earlier, the SOL/BAL took a 1-0 lead in the first when Caroline Schoenewald, who was hit by a pitch, scored on a groundout by Holweger.
DeCew threw the final three innings on the mound while Alden worked four scoreless innings to open the game to earn the win.
“I had always heard about (Alden), but I had never seen her play before,” Boyer said. “She definitely lived up to her reputation. She’s a fierce competitor, and she’s very stoic. You don’t see a lot of emotion, she’s very composed, and she has great movement on the ball. She does a lot of nice things, and she’s a great offensive softball player as well.”
While winning is certainly an objective, there’s more to it than that for the players, most of whom also are committed to a travel team.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said D’Agostino, who plays for the Doylestown Dragons. “It’s really cool playing with these people and meeting everyone. Everyone is really nice, and this is a good opportunity.”
“It’s so much fun – I love it,” added DeCew, who plays for the Warrington Blue Thunder. “This is my first year, and it’s fun – just getting to know all the girls that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. We play against them all season, and it’s cool to get to know other softball players.”
“It’s so much fun,” Julia Schoenewald said. “Every single girl here really wants to win. Everyone is giving 100 percent because we don’t have much time to show our stuff because they have to get so many girls into the game, but it’s really fun to get to play with a bunch of girls that you play against normally.”
The SOL/BAL will return to action in the double elimination tournament on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
“I’m not too overly concerned,” Boyer said. “You can certainly overanalyze it and look at different angles, but Mercer County was in our exact same position last year. They were 2-1 and came through the loser’s bracket and beat us. It’s definitely doable out of the loser’s bracket.”