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Central Bucks South softball wins SOL Colonial opener


The Central Bucks South Titans were dominant Tuesday as they kicked off their Suburban One League Colonial Division season.

The Titans showcased good pitching, defense and an offense that featured big hits, strategic bunts and five stolen bases.

That all added up to an 11-1 victory over visiting Central Bucks East in a game that ended in the bottom of the fifth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule.

“We’ve been practicing really well, and the games seem easy,” said junior center fielder Ella Wheeler.

Wheeler doubled twice, had an RBI, scored a run and stole a base.

Other Titans enjoyed big nights at the plate.

Leadoff batter Steph Bendzlowicz, a St. Peter’s recruit, had two singles, two runs scored and two steals. Hannah Tracy singled twice, scored both times and had three RBIs. Cleanup batter Hollie Schaub had a single, RBI double, two runs scored and a steal of home. Lane McLaughlin, also a volleyball star, singled twice, scored and stole a base. Sarah Geackel had an RBI double and scored a run. Maddie McClintock, considered the team’s top hitter, knocked in a run.

“We hit really well, and we have really great speed on the team,” said Tracy, a sophomore left fielder.

Star pitcher Riley Theis had the night off, as she was scheduled to face a very good Downingtown West team on Wednesday in a game that ended after the Herald went to print.

Promising freshman Alexis Griffin got the start. She went three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out four. McLaughlin pitched the other two innings.

“We have three really good pitchers,” said new coach Matt McLaughlin, Lane’s dad. “They can all spin the ball well.”

South is 2-1, having suffered a 1-0 loss to Methacton and clobbering Garnet Valley – which eliminated the Titans in last year’s District One Class 6A playoffs – 14-0.

Meanwhile, East is 2-2 (0-2 SOL Colonial). The Patriots beat Wissahickon and Lower Moreland but dropped a mercy-rule game to Central Bucks West.

Sarah Zmuda had two hits and knocked in a run for East. Sara Camposano singled and scored her team’s only run. Hailey Helmstetter reached base in both of her at-bats, singling and getting hit by a pitch.

“It’s going to be tough in our division,” said coach Karl Knapp. “We have all-freshmen pitching and an all-freshmen right side of the infield. But we’ll compete. They’re up to it mentally. It’s a tough group, and they don’t give up.”

McLaughlin replaced Kevin Rosini, who retired after last season. Rosini guided the Titans to a District One championship in 2018 and Archbishop Wood to a District 12 title in 2016. McLaughlin was the JV coach last year and has a background as a travel coach.

South, which has just one senior starter, won two games in districts last spring and has high hopes for the year.

“This year, we have a few new girls and girls coming back. I think we can go really far, hopefully to states,” Tracy said.

Wheeler said the girls like one another and are building confidence. The Titans piled up 11 hits and did not commit an error against East.

“I really like our defense. It can take us really far,” she said.

The Titans know things will not be as easy as they were on Tuesday.

“We have the strongest division by far,” coach McLaughlin said, comparing the four SOL divisions. “Pitching in the division is good.”

McLaughlin cited Pennridge and its hard-throwing pitcher, Averi Dockery, a Florida State recruit, as a possible SOL Colonial favorite.

The coach named Wheeler, McLaughlin and Bendzlowicz as his power hitters, though added that the cold weather of the early spring keeps well-hit balls in play.

He likes his team’s speed and defense, but would like to see more timely hitting. The Titans left 14 runners on base in the loss to Methacton.

McLaughlin was happier with the way things went against Garnet Valley, saying the Titans “small-balled them to death.”

Schaub, a junior first baseman, sees good things ahead.

“We’ve had two scrimmages and three games, and I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” she said. “We played lights-out defense against Methacton. We’re looking for baserunners. We play small ball. We have the potential to get better from here.”

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