Unionville softball hangs in despite early onslaught
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — As the second grand slam in as many innings flew out beyond the right center fence in the second inning, making the score an ugly 14-0, the Unionville High School softball team could have reacted in a number of ways, Wednesday.
The young Indians — just one senior is on the roster — could have quit against powerful West Chester Rustin — let the game hit the 15-run mercy limit to end the game after just three innings.
Instead, the young team regrouped, battled and — maybe — found something moving forward in a frosty 17-5 loss.
“After that first inning, we’re down 10-0 and I said ‘we’re going to see what you’re made of’ “ Unionville head Coach Janelle Hadly said afterward. “You can hang your heads — and we didn’t. We battled back.”
Further complicating matters for the young Indians, the 1-2 Knights have one of the better teams in Chester County, but one that was frustrated by an 0-2 start — and they came out ready to play. That mixed with the youth of the Unionville team — many players playing their first varsity games this week — made for a tough day.
“It’s a learning curve for a lot of these girls who haven’t played varsity,” Hadly said. “It’s a huge step up.”
And if the final score was ugly, there were still a number of bright spots. First, the pitching of sophomore Austin Langerhans.
While starter and fellow sophomore Elise Rocconi struggled on the mound, surrendering 10 runs in her one inning of work and even pitching staff ace junior Amy Large was less than sharp, allowing four runs in her one inning of work, Langerhans stopped the Knights’ offensive onslaught dead in its tracks, posting two scoreless innings and allowing her teammates to catch their collective breath and regroup.
Rustin finally got to Langerhans in the fifth for three runs, but combined with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, she looks to be emerging as a key piece of the puzzle moving forward for the Indians.
“She pitched well, she hit well, she was aggressive,” Hadly said.
And of course, Large had a solid game, going 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI. Catcher Kate Mims ripped a double into the gap — driving in a run. In total, Unionville managed eight hits — a big improvement from Monday’s season opener when it was limited to just two hits.
Still, the game was tough pretty much from the first pitch when Rustin’s Anna Stienmetz ripped a shot over the left field fence to start the game. Once the dust settled in the first, including the first of two grand slams by Caeli Abadie, the Indians were down 10-0 before even coming to bat.
Unfortunately, Abadie was nearly as effective pitching as she was as the plate, short-circuiting a rally in the bottom of the first. Then, adding injury to insult, she crushed a second grand slam in the second inning. Ultimately, Abade went 4-for-4 with nine RBI and pitched a five-inning complete game for the Knights.
Although the final score hurt, some lessons could prove valuable moving forward, starting Thursday as the Indians travel to Octorara.
“We have to come out with a win tomorrow, we just have to some how, some way,” Hadly said. “This is a gut check, a real gut check at the beginning of the season. It’s put up or shut up. We’ll see what they’re made of.”