Mandi Rush and Alexis Karkoska have split the pitching duties this season for Spring-Ford High, the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA softball champion.

Rush, a senior who will attend Alvin College in Texas, has a 14-0 record as the Rams head into the PIAA state playoffs on Monday.

Karkoska, a senior who will study nursing at Pittsburgh, recorded six wins against two losses. They are the only losses the Rams have suffered this season, both against Pioneer Athletic Conference champion and rival Owen J. Roberts.

Yesterday, the two worked together to help beat Central Bucks South for the school's first district championship. And Karkoska didn't even throw a pitch.

Karkoska, who usually plays second base when not pitching, provided the offensive punch for the Rams. She belted a solo home run in the first inning, then kicked off a three-run rally in the sixth that provided the margin of victory in the 4-2 win. Meanwhile, Rush scattered eight hits and got the defensive support she needed to remain unbeaten.

"They are both very capable pitchers," Rams coach Tim Hughes said. "I just think that we're a slightly better fielding team when Lex is at second base. When Mandi's pitching, Lex is always there ready to go in if needed.

"It's usually been a case of who's hot, and Mandi's been pitching very well," Hughes said. "Lex can play anywhere. She's pitched, played second and the outfield for us."

Karkoska and Rush had big expectations for Spring-Ford this season, and they weren't about to let any pitching rivalry get in the way.

"We went to Florida for five days [in the preseason]," saod Rush, whose older sister, Heather, was also a pitcher for the Rams. "It was great competition and great for us as a team. We both had a good feeling about this team."

- Don Beideman