Eight Pennsbury athletes commit
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.
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.
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.