The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ)
Pennsbury avenges loss to Quakertown, reaches state semis
It was no secret when the Pennsbury High softball team lost to Quakertown in the quarterfinals of districts it did not play one of its better games of the year.
Suffice it to say it was a completely different story this time around as Pennsbury (23-3) defeated Quakertown, 6-2, on Thursday afternoon to advance into the semifinals of the PIAA Class 6 A State Tournament.
Pennsbury will be back in action on Monday against Haverford, which stunned District 1 Champion Spring-Ford in the other quarterfinal round game in the upper half of the bracket.
Playing at the Spring-Ford High School field, Pennsbury got an outstanding performance from junior righty Ainsley McClure. Showing excellent location and a curveball that consistently painted the outside corner against right-hand hitters, McClure came out firing and struck out eight of the first nine batters.
Although she did yield a two-run homer to Laura Morelock in the sixth inning, by that time Pennsbury had a commanding 5-0 lead. McClure finished with a nine-hitter and a very impressive 14 strikeouts in easily one of her best games of the year.
Pennsbury struggled offensively against Quakertown’s Syd Andrews in their first meeting, but came out swinging and had her timed right from the start. Although the Falcons did not score in the first inning, they did collect two hits and two out of the outs were hit hard.
The Falcons got on the board in the third on consecutive singles by Riley Mahoney, Rowan Mulholland and Jess Rowe.
The knockout blow followed in the fifth when Pennsbury poured across four runs. This uprising started with a bunt single by No. 9 batter Taylor Askey. Caitlyn Martell then bunted and raced all the way to second when the ball was thrown away.
In order, Mulholland, Rowe and McGinley then all stroked RBI singles after Quakertown had intentionally walked Mahoney to juice the bases with no outs. Sam Raub got the fourth run of the inning home on a deep fly to left for a sacrifice fly.
Pennsbury added another run in the top of the sixth when Martell doubled with two outs and raced home on a single by Mahoney.
After a bit of a lull in district play, the Pennsbury bats have clearly heated up. The Falcons had 11 hits in all against Quakertown with Mulholland going 3-for-4. In addition, Martell, Mahoney and Rowe all had two hits with Rowe also leading the team with two RBIs.
Trailing, 6-2, Quakertown did not go quietly in the bottom of the seventh and opened the inning with two singles. But Martell made a sensational diving catch at shortstop for the first out.
After a walk that loaded the bases and a visit to the circle by Pennsbury coach Frank McSherry, McClure roared back with a strikeout and soft grounder to shortstop to seal the deal.
“Ainsley pitched a great game and we always want to show her we have her back by making all the plays,” said Martell. “We’re real excited to keep playing. We want to take it one game at a time.
Should it beat Haverford on Monday, Pennsbury would be one win away from a sixth state title in the history of its storied program.
“We think next up,” said Mulholland, who does an excellent job framing McClure’s pitches. “We know we can beat anybody, but we also know anybody can beat us.” Quakertown (20-6) 000 002 0 — 2 9 0 Pennsbury (23-3) 001 041 x — 6 11 0 WP-McClure. LP-Andrews. 2B-Hilton (Q), Martell (P). RBIs: Q-Morelock 2. P-Mahoney, Mulholland, Rowe 2, McGonnigle, Raub.
CANON-MCMILLAN 5, NESHAMINY 3
Neshaminy suffered a very tough defeat in this PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal in a game that went to the international tiebreaker in the 10th inning.
Neshaminy took the lead in the top of the 10th, but Canon McMillan was able to tie the game on a two-run homer. Later in the inning, the Western Pennsylvania team got a game-winning single to advance to the semifinals in the bottom half of the bracket.