Eight Penns­bury ath­letes com­mit

The Advance of Bucks County - - SPORTS - By Steve Sherman

Buck­sLo­calS­ports Ed­i­tor

Af­ter mak­ing their way to the cinal cour in the state last sea­son and the PIAA cham­pi­onship the year be­fore, the ques­tion isn’t “are the cal­cons go­ing to take the PIAA crown next spring?” It’s, “who is go­ing to play for Penns­bury in 2014?”

Ap­par­ently, the whole team is grad­u­at­ing in gune. The se­nior con­tin­gent for the cal­cons was on dis­play Wed­nes­day, Nov. 14 as a half-dozen soft­ballers an­nounced their col­lege com­mit­ments in a cer­e­mony at PHS Tele­vi­sion Stu­dios.

What’s more, three of the six in­clud­ing stand­out pitcher sal Buehler are headed to WKH VDPH unLvHrVLWy. ,nfiHOGers Suzanne Swan­icke and Christina Bas­cara will join Buehler next sea­son at LaSalle.

“We all have good chem­istry to­gether es­pe­cially since we have all moved up to­gether,” said Buehler. “We have been play­ing to­gether since our sopho­more year, all on the same team and all start­ing.”

Sec­ond base­man gess dreen­wald, short­stop Macken­zie Obert and out­fiHOGHr 7DyORr BROWHrVGRrI made up the re­main­der of the soft­ball group. cinally, Bran­don dar­rett (Rhode Is­land base­ball) and helsy dumb­ert (West Ch­ester lacrosse) an­nounced plans to take their games to the next level.

See­ing eight Penns­bury ath­letes sign­ing col­lege com­mit­ments all at once is some­thing you don’t see ev­ery day. Watch­ing three of them an­nounce plans head­ing to a Big 5 ri­val – price­less!

WKLOH firVW-yHDr KHDG coach Ron Shoe­maker con­vLnFHG ERWK WKH Ln­fiHOGHrV and the pitcher to come to LaSalle, the girls are headed to Philadel­phia for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

cor Swan­icke, the calFRnV firVW EDVHPDn, LW’V DOO about prox­im­ity to home.

“If I went xto col­lege] far away, I know I’d miss home,” said Swan­icke. “Hav­ing a 45-minute drive, I’m not go­ing to be able to come home ev­ery week­end with prac­tices and tour­na­ments. But I like the chance to be able to come home and it will be an easy drive.”

While Bas­cara and Buehler were re­cruited to play in their re­spec­tive po­si­tions they held in high school, Swan­icke could pos­si­bly see some ac­tion be­hind the plate. She has ex­pe­ri­ence catch­ing for her club team Sports Con­nec­tion, which was sec­ond in states and sev­enth in ASA Na­tion­als last sum­mer.

While the cal­cons failed to make it back to the state cham­pi­onship game last spring af­ter fall­ing in the state semis for the sec­ond time in the post­sea­son to even­tual PIAA Class AAAA cham­pion Cen­tral Bucks South, Swan­icke says the lessons learned in the 2012 tour­na­ment have served her well.

“do­ing to state cham­pi­onships and los­ing, it was a new hori­zon I had to cross,” said Swan­icke.

“My men­tal tough­ness now is at an all-time high. All the crit­i­cism that we took is really noth­ing com­pared to what we know we can do.”

cor Bas­cara, a peren­nial mem­ber of the Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety who plans to get a grad­u­ate de­gree at LaSalle, the process of pick­ing a col­lege cen­tered more on aca­demics.

“It was a long process es­pe­cially de­cid­ing which coaches are in­ter­ested and which schools would be WKH SHrIHFW fiW,” H[SODLnHG Bas­cara. “Luck­ily, when I started to be­come in­ter­ested in LaSalle and Coach Shoe­maker started to be­come in­ter­ested in me, it was the right time.”

Af­ter work­ing as an as­sis­tant at St. goe’s, Shoe­maker was named head coach of the Ex­plor­ers in gune af­ter the team turned in a 9-40 over­all record while go­ing 3-17 in the At­lantic 10 Con­fer­ence un­der out­go­ing skip­per Bri­anne Brown. The Penns­bury trio hopes WKH Ln­flu[ RI WDOHnW IrRP WKH cal­cons can help turn LaSalle around.

“I hope that sal, Christina and I can make LaSalle a bet­ter xteam] – make a bet­ter name for their soft­ball pro­gram,” said Swan­icke. “I hope that we can take all that we have learned in school ball and club ball and bring it to col­lege.”

While Obert is not go­ing to LaSalle, she is headed to play at the Di­vi­sion I level, hop­ing to play short­stop for the Hart­ford Hawks, who went 10-34, over­all, 4-14 in the Amer­ica East Con­fer­ence. Macken­zie likes the fact that she sees eye-to-eye with Hawks head coach Diana Con­sol­magno – both ladies are short, in stature.

“She is shorter like me and she can re­late to what I’ve been through,” ex­plained Obert.

“drow­ing up, peo­ple al­ways told me ‘you can’t play short­stop, you’re too short.’ But I over­came that and she un­der­stands that.”

Look­ing back to last sea­son, Obert says the squad has picked up the pieces VLnFH LWV VHPLfinDO ORVV WR the Ti­tans.

“We were

dis­ap­pointed

af­ter the loss be­cause we were so close we could taste the cham­pi­onship,” she said.

“Af­ter look­ing back, we re­al­ized we were one of WhH finDO IRuU WHDPV Ln WhH state. It was a big ac­com­plish­ment. We knew we had come so far since the be­gin­ning of the year that it was some­thing we shouldn’t hang our heads about.”

Af­ter shar­ing the SOL Na­tional League crown with Ne­shaminy, the Fal­cons’ of­fense strug­gled ini­tially in the post­sea­son, reg­is­ter­ing just four runs in a 2-2 run in dis­tricts.

No wor­ries when you have a pitcher like Buehler. Va­lerie tossed a shutout and struck out seven bat­ters in a 1-0 win over Pen­nridge in the sec­ond round of the dis­tricts then fol­lowed that up with a three-hit­ter and seven more strike­outs in a 2-1 ex­tra-in­ning win over Methac­ton in the district TuDUWHUfinDOV WhDW SuW 3Hn­nVbury back in states.

“We trust her to get the key outs,” said Obert, of Buehler. “We are all de­ter­mined to win it for each other and our coach be­cause he’s been here for a while and th­ese past few years have been killer not win­ning.”

EYHUyERGy hLW Ln WhH fiUVW two games at states. In a 6-1 PIAA-open­ing win over Wil­liamsport, Bas­cara went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, and two runs scored. Obert also hit 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Fresh­man Dani Litwin added a 2-for3 per­for­mance with an RBI and a run scored.

The bats again came alive in the state quar­ters against Lower Dauphin, a 7-6 come-from-be­hind 9-in­ning win.

With two outs in the ninth Ln­nLng, RuW­fiHOGHU FDUUyO Groder came through with a game-win­ning RBI sin­gle that scored Bas­cara. Green­wald com­piled three hits, while Bas­cara and Swan­icke each added two hits and a pair of runs scored.

For a moment, it looked like the PIAA run would end in the quar­ters when Penns­bury fell be­hind 6-3 in the top of the eighth. But DH Lau­ren Cre­gan crushed a 2-out, 2-strike triple that helped tie the game at 6-all. EYHn UHVHUYH RuW­fiHOGHU 7Dy- lor Bolters­dorf — who is headed to Ge­or­gian Court Univer­sity — had a big day at the plate, go­ing 3-for-4 with an RBI.

“When our pitcher is do­ing good, we all wanna play good for her,” said Green­wald, who is headed to Mount Saint Mary’s.

“At Penns­bury, it’s all about the best nine play so it’s a lot of com­pe­ti­tion so you have that drive ev­ery sin­gle day at prac­tice and ev­ery game. You learn to com­pete at that level and that is what has taken us so far ev­ery year.”

Head­ing into next sea­son Penns­bury is all set with a se­nior-laden lineup. All but catch­ers Tay­lor Luise and Litwin along with right­fiHOGHU FDUUyO *URGHU DUH 12th-graders.

So the ques­tion for the coming spring is, does the veteran lineup and past ex­pe­ri­ence in the post­sea­son put the Fal­cons back in the state ti­tle game?

“We know what we are ca­pa­ble of do­ing, it’s just a mat­ter of do­ing it,” said Bas­cara.

“But we know we can get there again.”

“This year, we should be fo­cused the whole time – go­ing strong,” added Obert. “I wanna win.”

***

NOTES: Shoe­maker also coached Arch­bishop Wood to the 1999 Philadel­phia Catholic League ti­tle and an un­de­feated sea­son. He also served as head coach at alma mater Ne­shaminy in 2000-01.

Photo by Steve Sherman

Sit­ting in the first row, from left, Penns­bury se­niors Macken­zie Obert, Val Buehler, Jess Green­wald and Fal­cons head coach Frank McSherry. Back row: Suzanne Swan­icke, Tay­lor Bolters­dorf and Christina Bas­cara.

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