Running the bases with relentless aggression and riding a complete-game one-hitter from sophomore pitching ace Lexi Waring, the Council Rock South softball team took control early and went on to a 6-0 victory over Council Rock North Monday afternoon in a PIAA District One Class 6A playoff opener at South.
The loss ended the season for 22-seed CR North (11-10) while 11-seed CR South (15-6) advanced to play at six-seed Downingtown East on Wednesday (results unavailable at press time). Council Rock South won all three meetings with its intra-school district rival CR North this year.
“We were really excited when we saw we drew North in the first round,” Golden Hawks head coach Dan Schram said after the win. “Obviously, your first feeling is you have a common opponent you’re going to play a third time. I felt if we could play them a third time, we’d play an even better game against them because we know them so well.”
Waring had a no-hitter with one out in the top of the seventh inning when CR North’s Haley Edelman hit a hard smash grounder that South shortstop Kaylie Walters made a diving stop on but couldn’t recover in time to make a throw. But that would be North’s lone hit as Waring got a routine popout and her seventh strikeout to finish off the pitching gem.
“They put the ball in play a lot but the team backed me up and made a lot of great plays in the field,” she said.
Council Rock South broke on top in the bottom of the first when Walters reached on an error, stole second and third and scored on a grounder by Ameerah Wheet. The Golden Hawks added two more in the bottom of the the third, with the highlights a double by Maddie McLean, and another run scored by Walters on a sacrifice bunt by Grace Stepp.
The Golden Hawks finished the scoring with three in the bottom of the fourth. Walters was front and center in that frame as well with a triple and another run scored. For the game, she was 1-for-3 with three runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases. McLean was 3-for-3 with two runs, two stolen bases and an RBI while Wheet had two stolen bases in her 1-for-3 day.
Council Rock South base runners took full advantage of just about every opportunity to take extra bases, often sliding head first just ahead of CR North tags.
“I think we were very aggressive and took advantage of their overthrows and even them not paying attention,” said Walters, CR South’s senior leadoff hitter. “We were just very aggressive on the bags. I just felt like I really wanted to pull through for my team today so we can try to get as far as we can. It was very nice to get fueled up against them. I feel like our team has a lot of trust in each other.”
Waring was key as she has been so often this season, Schram said.
“In the last six games, she has been on a roll like no other pitcher in the area,” he said. “She has been brilliant. What was special today too was that our team played really good defense behind her. That’s what playoff softball is.”
Lucy Mills went the distance on the mound for CR North and kept the Indians at least within reasonable striking distance throughout. She surrendered six hits and only three earned runs while striking out two and walking two.
“I could have done better but it wasn’t my worst,” she said. “I think it was a good season and I had a lot of fun. We all had a lot of fun, and I’m really proud of our team.”
Taylor Gearhart, Molly Sheehy, Kayla Ripper and Olivia Schlindwein had the best struck balls for the Indians, but none resulted in hits until Edelman’s infield single in the seventh. Council Rock North could never put together enough consistent offense to mount a serious threat to South. Council Rock North head coach Susan Yee said the team will work hard during the offseason to take the next step after making the District One playoffs for the first time since 2018.
“Now that we’ve experienced it, let’s try and do something in the playoffs next year,” she said. “Our girls did a better job of putting the ball in play this game, but just couldn’t find the holes. Lexi Waring is a phenomenal pitcher. She is really on her game.”
Yee also had high praise for the performance of her own pitcher, Mills. The 2023 CR North squad was very young, with no seniors on the roster and a starting lineup of two juniors, a sophomore and the rest freshmen.
“We had three players with varsity experience,” Yee said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these kids. They exceeded everyone’s expectations this year. People didn’t think Council Rock North was going to do anything, but they made the adjustments, worked hard and it was an awesome thing to see.”