Central Bucks West is off to a good start, now 3-0 after the Bucks’ recent 10-0 mercy-ruled victory over Colonial League rival Palisades.
After opening the season March 25 with a 7-6 comeback win over Wissahickon, West also toppled crosstown rival CB East, 3-1.
With 20 runs in three games, the Bucks’ bats have come alive early and often, thus far.
“We struggled at the plate at times last year,” admitted fourth-year CB West head coach Geoff Thompson. “This season, so far, we’ve been getting some good timely hits and scoring some runs.
“It certainly makes things easier.”
The Bucks entered the season without the services of first team All-Suburban One Continental League pitcher Angelina Sherba (Longwood) and shortstop Sam Trafford (Kutztown). Catcher Julia Perez also graduated.
While he had a pitcher waiting in the wings, truth be told, Thompson didn’t know who was going to catch this year. But that was before freshman Abby Lineman showed up in the fall.
“She came to a couple of our workouts and I was like, ‘this girl is going to be a star,’” stated Thompson. “She’s a real good player and has been playing great for us behind the plate.
“She’s a great hitter and an excellent catcher.”
Lineman is not the only freshman thriving on the varsity roster.
Classmate Bailey Dumasz is anchoring a position in left field.
In addition to her glove, Dumasz is coming through with the bat. In the win over East, she recorded two hits including a single in the second inning then scored the winning run on a double by senior Grace Dryden.
“Bailey has been a nice surprise for us,” said Thompson. “The way she’s been playing left field, she’s been doing excellent.
“She catches everything that comes her way. She’s a smart player and she’s getting some good hits for us.
“Bailey works hard and she’s very coachable; you can’t ask for anything more.”
While East plated a run on a solo home run in the fourth, West got it right back when Lineman drew a fifth-inning walk, went to third on a double by junior Courtney Levy then scored when sophomore Anna Rodenbaugh delivered a pinch-hit single.
While she gave up seven walks, pitcher Kayla Gallagher tossed a two-hitter. Thompson said Gallagher – who made third team All-SOL last season – came back even stronger against Palisades and pitched three innings of shutout softball while giving up only a single walk.
According to Thompson, it was the Bucks’ first win over the Patriots in at least the last four campaigns.
“It was awesome. It’s always a big rivalry and the girls get up for it,” stated Thompson. “The seniors were pretty ecstatic that they finally beat ’em so it was a lot of fun.”
Getting an early lead on CB East certainly helped fuel the win.
“You always want to jump out to a lead on somebody,” said Thompson. “It’s nice to have a little bit of cushion and it relaxes the girls a little bit.”
While junior Emma Cooper is back at second base and Yoder plays first when she’s not pitching, the Bucks feature players at new positions at short and third base. Dryden, who played third base last year, has moved over to short and Levy took up Dryden’s old spot on the hot corner.
“We moved Grace over to short because she’s an excellent athlete; she’s good at anything she does,” said Thompson. “We wanted our best athlete at short.”
Another pleasant surprise in the CB West lineup is the presence of junior Ebani Welsh, a track star who decided to come out to play softball this spring.
“We’re really lucky to have her,” said Thompson. “She’s fast, she has a nice bat and she’s an excellent centerfielder.”
In the win over Palisades, Welsh hit a two-out, two-run single in the second inning to give the Bucks all the runs they would need to win.
Taking a 3-0 lead into the fifth, West erupted for five runs, a rally highlighted by Rodenbaugh’s three-run homer.
Welsh finished the game hitting 3-for-4 with a double and six RBIs. She also had an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth.
Senior rightfielder Maddie Leatherbarrow went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Lineman also came through with a double.
In the season opener, the Bucks posted three different leads only to see the Trojans come back to tie the game three times before taking a late game 6-5 lead.
In the home seventh, with Lineman and sophomore Lauren Molenari standing on second and third base, respectively, outfielder Sam Ryan hit a ground ball to third base and the Wissahickon infielder threw the ball out of play, plating a pair of runs to put West’s first game of the season in the win column.
Last season, the Bucks went to the District One tournament for the first time since 2002. In the postseason, West went 1-1 with a 3-2 opening win over Owen J. Roberts and a 1-0 loss to CB South, which captured the D1 crown.
That has lifted the bar higher, going forward, the coach said.
“They want to make the playoffs again,” stated Thompson. “Now that they have a little confidence, they realize they can play with a lot of clubs so they expect to win this year.”
West dropped the first of three away games this week, falling to Souderton 4-3 on Tuesday. The Bucks travel to Pennridge Thursday and Lansdale Catholic Friday.
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