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High School Softball: Nineteen-Hit Attack Propels Golden Panthers to First District Title in School History

The girls are victorious in the PIAA District 1 Class AAA championship game.

Sometimes, destiny has a funny way of revealing itself.

As Pottsgrove and Pope John Paul II took the field on Thursday in the PIAA Class AAA District One Championship game, it was a certainty that one squad would claim the first district championship in its school’s history.

As Golden Panthers Manager John Bilella watched his usually sure-handed squad commit five errors in the first two innings, he must have thought that Lady Destiny had a cruel joke planned for him.

It turned out to be a false alarm, as the 19-hit barrage launched by Pope John Paul II was too much for Pottsgrove to counter, propelling Bilella’s troops to a 12-6 victory at Rams field.

Pope John Paul II, (8-9 league, 12-9 overall) jumped out of the gate posting two runs in the first on RBI singles from Nikki Troisi and Meg O’Connor. That prompted Pottsgrove coach Mallory Greene to have a brief meeting at the mound with starter Marisa Kineer and her defense.

Kineer, who has been sensational during the Falcons' 11-game winning streak, allowed three hits in an inning for the first time in eight games and worked out of the inning, allowing just two runs.

Pottsgrove (11-7 league, 14-8 overall) got it going early, as well, largely with some help from the PJP2 defense. The Falcons capitalized on the extra outs given to them by scoring two in the first and putting up a four spot in the second fueled by base hits from Marisa Kineer, Jess Kurtz, Julia Hartman and Josie Hain to post a 6-3 lead—which they maintained until the fifth inning.

“We have fielded well all year to the tune of .975 fielding percentage,” said Bilella. “When I saw us throwing the ball all over and committing mistakes that we don’t typically make, we got together between innings and got everyone to take a breath and relax.”

“We definitely had them on the ropes early,” said Falcons coach Mallory Greene. “Anytime you get six runs in the first two at bats, you have to finish strong. Give them credit—they could have hung their heads after the early errors, but they battled back and really hit the ball. They simply wanted it more than we showed today.”

After scoring three runs to start the sixth, tying the game on a base hit by Patsy Murphy, it was Meg Kugler who had a chance for redemption, with Kugler having committed three of the season high six PJP2 errors.

“I wanted to have a chance there,” said Kugler. “I felt horrible about dropping the ball earlier, and the best way to make up for that was to drive in some runs. We have picked each other up all year; that’s what we discussed in the dugout after the second inning. We just needed to relax and play our game, and we knew the hits would come.”

Kugler delivered in a big way, drilling a ball to the fence in left center, clearing the bases and giving the Golden Panthers a 9-6 lead, which they extended to a four-run edge as Jane Rogers drove in Kugler.

“I wanted the girls to have fun today,” said Bilella. “I coached in five of these games in the Catholic League at Kenrick, and you never know if you will have another opportunity to get back here. I am so proud of the way this team has come together this season. It took a little while, but we have it going now at the right time.

Pottsgrove refused to go quietly into the afternoon sun. The Falcons loaded the bases to start the sixth on consecutive single by Taylor Robinson (1-for-4, run scored), Kineer (2-for-3, two runs) and Kurtz (2-for-4, run scored), and looked poised to regain the momentum.

The Golden Panthers, playing the infield, were able to cut down Robinson and Kineer at the plate on balls kept in the infield. That was before Lexi Kehl flew out to deep right field, ending the inning and the Falcons' best chance to regain their steam.

“I am so excited," said shortstop Amanda Light. “We know we can all hit, and we just needed to calm down. We were all so up for the game that I think the nerves got us a little at the beginning. She (Kineer) is such a great pitcher, but this is the third time we have faced her this season, and we were able to hit since we know what she does and where she likes to pitch.”

“It’s not over for us,” said Greene. “Somehow, we have to get ready to get back to work tomorrow and prepare for states. We have an 11-game streak that is over; we just have to start another one. This is the furthest any Pottsgrove team has ever gotten; we have to remember how special that is. We beat them twice this year, and it’s tough to beat someone three times.” 

The seniors who have had such an integral role in the success of the Golden Panthers were unable to hoist the District 1 trophy along with Light and company because they had to leave immediately following the game to get ready for the first baccalaureate Mass in Pope John Paul II school history.  

"This is awesome," said an emotional Patsy Murphy. "I am ecstatic; we have all worked so hard to get here, and it was a little scary in the beginning. But we knew we could get it together and put runs on the board. They beat us twice during the season, and we really wanted to have another chance at them."

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 

R

H

E

 

Pope John Paul II

2

1

0

0

6

1

2

 

12

19

6

 

Pottsgrove

2

4

0

0

0

0

0

 

6

11

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pope John Paul II

 

AB

 

R

 

H

 

RBI

 

Pottsgrove

 

AB

 

R

 

H

 

RBI

Light ss

4

1

1

0

Robinson lf

4

1

1

0

Murphy c

4

1

4

2

Kineer p

3

2

2

0

O’Connor 3b

5

1

1

1

Kurtz cf

4

1

2

0

Kugler 1b

4

2

2

3

O’Brien c

4

0

1

2

Troisi p

4

0

3

1

Hensley ss

4

0

0

0

Rogers 2b

3

1

2

1

Kehl rf

4

0

0

0

Levins lf

5

1

2

1

Hartman 3b

4

1

2

0

Catagnus cf

5

2

2

1

Phillips 1b

3

0

1

0

Eliff rf

3

2

2

1

Hain  2B

4

1

2

0

Romberger cr

0

1

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

Schwab pr

0

1

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

37

12

19

11

Totals

34

6

11

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IP

 

R

ER

H

SO

BB

Troisi  (W)

7

6

2

11

4

1

Kineer (L)

7

12

10

19

5

4

 

 

2B-Troisi, Kugler, O’Brien, Phillips  3B-Eliff    HR- none       LOB- PJP-12     GROVE- 10 

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