There was a Mass scheduled for graduates last night at St. Pius, and pitcher Denise Haines wanted to make sure she was on time for it even though the Lions had an opening-round game in the PIAA Class AA softball playoffs a few miles down Route 422 at Spring-Ford in the afternoon.
No need to worry.
Pitching with accuracy, if not overpowering speed, the senior hurler got the job done, with a 9-3 win over Kennedy-Kenrick. The victory for the Lions (8-12), the lone District 1 representative in Class AA, advances them to a quarterfinal Thursday against the winner of yesterday's battle between Brandywine Heights, the District 3 champion, and Mifflinburg, the runner-up from District 4.
Haines, who is headed to Dickinson to play next season, recorded just four strikeouts. But her pitch placement had Wolverines hitting the ball at someone most of the afternoon. She never faced more than five batters in an inning until the seventh.
She had given up just three hits through six innings. Kennedy-Kenrick (15-7), the District 12 representative, managed two runs on four hits in the top of the seventh. That inning, Amanda Light got the only extra-base hit off Haines, a double.
"I try to throw strikes using all of my pitches," Haines said.
She showed she can hit the ball, too. She doubled and scored in a three-run first inning that erased a 1-0 Kennedy-Kenrick lead. Her triple highlighted a six-run fourth inning that put the game away.
"We were patient today," coach Corey Graver said of the Lions' efforts at the plate against Nikki Troisi, the Wolverines' hard-throwing sophomore pitcher.
Troisi had 15 strikeouts in her team's last outing, a District 12 playoff win over Masterman. She had 12 against the Lions, but hit three batters and and saw a couple of batters reach first safely on strikeouts.
"That first inning was a killer," Wolverines coach John Billila said.
Kennedy-Kenrick 100 000 2 - 3 7 2
St. Pius 300 600 x - 9 6 1
WP: Denise Haines. LP: Nikki Troisi. 2B: KK-Amanda Light. 3B: SP-Haines.