When Central Bucks South captured a district championship last year, it changed everything surrounding high school softball in Warrington.
For one, it meant the Titans – who returned eight starters – came into their current campaign with a target on their backs. When South dropped three of its first four games of the season, the Titans started gripping the bat a little tighter.
“Everyone felt a huge weight on their shoulders and when we started off slow, it kind of brought us down a little bit more,” admitted senior outfielder Alexa Ortman.
“I think we’re just starting to learn to deal with the pressure and we’re getting back into it.”
While South remains in the hunt for a berth in the District One Class 6A tournament, things haven’t exactly gone as planned this season.
After three consecutive early April wins, the Titans dropped three of their next four contests including a shutout loss to Suburban One Continental League rival Quakertown, a team South topped 12-2 early on in the season.
“The bar was set pretty high because the teams we beat out last year were coming for blood,” said senior infielder Rebecca Brennan, who missed the first part of the campaign after breaking her throwing hand in the offseason.
“We had higher expectations for ourselves because all these other teams wanted to beat us.”
Coming off a recent 10-0 loss to Quakertown, Titans head coach Kevin Rosini knew he had to shake things up in his lineup April 25 at home facing crosstown foe CB East.
Rosini did just that, moving Brennan from the No. 8 slot in the batting lineup to the two spot and replacing her in the order with classmate Kate Hammond.
Brennan responded with three hits including a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning that sent the duel to the mercy rule.
“I think she really stepped into that spot and stepped up for us today,” said Ortman, of Brennan’s batting performance.
“We changed things around to see how it would play out and it seemed to work pretty well for us.”
Hammond followed up with a leadoff double in the third and a two-out single in the fourth. The end result was a 13-3 four-and-a-half inning win over the Patriots, the Titans’ second of the season over CB East.
“We’ve hit a rough patch here and there and we’re not scoring a lot of runs and our offense has really struggled most of the season,” stated Rosini.
“For us to come out and score 13 runs today – we hit the ball well but even better, we ran the bases well and we were very aggressive.
“That helped a lot – it let Kylie relax a little bit and just pitch.
“When we don’t score any runs, it’s hard to pitch and it’s hard to play so we needed that today.”
The leadoff hitter who is headed to La Salle, Ortman led the way to the win over the Pats with an RBI triple and two singles while reaching base in all four of her plate appearances.
“She’s been that way her whole career here; she’s a four-year starter, a three-time first team all-star, and she got her 100th hit this year,” stated Rosini.
“When she goes, we go and today, she went.”
Up 4-0 after an inning of play, junior Tara Tumasz padded the lead in the second inning with a two-run single to left and classmate Katie Hines broke things open with a two-run triple to center. When Hines came around to score on a wild pitch, that put South up 9-0.
While Hammond struck out looking with a runner in scoring position in her first at bat in the first, she followed up with a double to the base of the left field wall to lead off the third inning, scored on Ortman’s triple and got a two-run rally going in the fourth with a two-out single to left.
“I’m really happy for Kate; she’s worked so hard,” said Rosini. “She’s been a pinch hitter here and there and she’s gotten some big hits for us. Today, for her to step in and get a couple hits – get that double and really get us moving, I couldn’t be happier for her.”
Defensively, senior righthander Kylie Kenney, who is headed to Bryant, limited East to four hits in five innings, striking out nine batters while walking only two.
“It was a Kylie performance,” said Ortman. “She’s been struggling on the mound lately – lots of walks and today, she really looked like herself.”
For the 3-12 Patriots, sophomore Soleil Dooner led CB East, going 2-for-2 with a third-inning RBI double and a run scored.
Meanwhile, South has six games left, not including a battle already begun against Abington in which the Titans hold a solid lead.
South came into the duel with the Patriots having lost three of its last four including league battles with Pennridge and North Penn.
The one battle the Titans did win in that stretch was a 5-4 walkoff triumph over Easton in which South trailed 4-0 after six-and-a-half frames. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, junior Lindsey Bieber stroked a walkoff RBI single and Brennan hit a game-tying two-run single. Hines and Tumasz added a pair of hits each and Kenney pitched a complete game five-hitter with six strikeouts.
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