Jennifer Robinson has taken criticism for her two-pitcher rotation. The Central Bucks South coach starts either junior Devon Utterback or sophomore Francesca Carrullo. The one not starting enters in relief after three or four innings.
But the system worked for Robinson as the Titans (22-4) stood on the threshold of their first appearance in the PIAA Class AAAA championship game in the school's four-year history.
Unfortunately for the Titans, they lost a heartbreaker to Shaler, 2-1, in a state semifinal on Monday. But that did not diminish what Robinson achieved this season, and she responds to criticism of her pitching strategy by asking, "Why not?"
"They've gotten us here," she said of her hurlers, "and they have been rock solid all year."
Interestingly, they have differing styles. Utterback is more of a location pitcher, while Carrullo brings more speed.
Robinson said the styles worked to the Titans' advantage. She said that when an opponent got used to one pitcher, there was a new one on the mound.
And don't think it was just a two-pitcher team. Freshman Haileigh Stocks could start for several other teams.
For taking her young team - three freshmen usually start - so far and sticking with Utterback and Carrullo all season, Robinson is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania softball coach of the year.
There were no big names, and there were seven freshmen on the varsity roster. But that didn't prevent Central Bucks South from making a serious run for a state championship.
The Titans were the lone area team left in the state playoffs in any classification until they lost Monday.
Central Bucks South, The Inquirer's team of the year, was there primarily on the arms of Utterback and Carrullo, timely hitting - there are no big power hitters - and good defense.
"We don't have any big stars, but we have played together very well in tight games," Robinson said.
The Titans won seven one-run games this season and demonstrated their ability to win the close ones vs. Governor Mifflin in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
In that 1-0 win, the coach said her team played as well defensively as could be played. The Titans turned two double plays and threw a runner out at the plate on a perfectly executed relay.
While Downingtown West coach Jeff Cellucci was disappointed to see his top-seeded and previously unbeaten team ousted from the District 1 Class AAA playoffs, he did have a team to root for in the postseason.
His daughter, Natalie Giusepp, coached Twin Valley of Lancaster County to the quarterfinals of the Class AAA playoffs. Her team, the runner-up in District 3, was ousted by Milton, the District 4 champion, on Thursday.
"She's probably the better coach," Cellucci said with a chuckle. "I'm proud of what she's done. She's a good kid."
PITCHER: Caroline Raymond, Downingtown West, Junior
With 295 strikeouts, Raymond was the most dominating pitcher in the area. She finished with a 21-1 record.
PITCHER: Kelly Schymanski, Owen J. Roberts, Senior
She can not only pitch, she's a solid hitter.
CATCHER: Jen Beaver, Owen J. Roberts, Senior
A big-time hitter as well as a solid backstop, Beaver hit over .400.
FIRST BASE: Kirby Groves, Pennsbury, Senior
Groves, a third baseman for her travel team, is headed to Seton Hall this fall to play.
SECOND BASE: Erica Cipolloni, Nazareth Academy, Senior
The Virginia-bound infielder hit over .500 and blasted 12 home runs for the Pandas.
THIRD BASE: Kelly Coker, Downingtown West, Senior
Coker batted .395 for the top-seeded Whippets, who were upset in the District 1 playoffs.
SHORTSTOP: Lauren Rossi, Pennsbury, Senior
Rossi, who is headed to Penn State, has it all: range, strong arm and hefty bat.
OUTFIELD: Jenna Phillips, Hatboro-Horsham, Senior
You didn't dare take an extra base on Phillips, who is going to Drexel to be a field hockey goalie.
OUTFIELD: Alexa Bell, Neshaminy, Junior
Bell batted .363 and drove in 18 runs for the Redskins, who finished with an 18-3 mark.
OUTFIELD: Gina Sciarrone, St. Hubert, Senior
Sciarrone was a catalyst for the Bambies, who made it the state playoff quarterfinals in their first year.
Courtney Spina, Garnet Valley, Senior
PITCHER: Sarah McGowan, Neshaminy, Sophomore
CATCHER: Morgan Noad, catcher, Conestoga, Freshman
FIRST BASE: Chelsea Edwards, Hatboro-Horsham, Senior
SECOND BASE: Alexis Karkoska, Spring-Ford, Senior
THIRD BASE: Morgan Decker, Central Bucks South, Freshman
SHORTSTOP: Ashley Black, Truman, Senior
OUTFIELD: Miranda Sergas, North Penn, Senior
OUTFIELD: Samantha Gordon, Abington, Senior
OUTFIELD: Samantha Creamer, Neshaminy, Junior
Kim Bates, first base, Villa Maria Academy, Senior
Francesca Carrullo, pitcher, Central Bucks West, Sophomore
Amanda Fernandez, pitcher, Nazareth Academy. Senior
Melissa Robinson, St. Hubert, pitcher, Junior
Mandi Rush, pitcher, Spring-Ford, Senior
Nicki Spina, catcher Garnet Valley, Junior
Tegan Wendell, pitcher, Abington, Junior
- Don BeidemanEndText