An even match in Catholic League final
St. Hubert and Lansdale Catholic are young. Both play small-ball and strong defense.
Lansdale Catholic softball coach Paul Suder probably best described Thursday's Catholic League championship game between his Crusaders and St. Hubert when he called it a "mirror" game.
He meant that the teams feature a number of very young players and play a similar style - a small-ball game combined with strong pitching and defense.
"We start four freshmen and a sophomore," said Suder, whose team finished in first place during the regular season with a 12-2 record and is 15-4-1 overall.
"We have three freshmen who bat second, fourth, and five for us," countered St. Hubert coach Dave Schafer, whose team has gone 16-5 overall and finished 11-3 in the league. "We lost seven to graduation."
The Bambies, who have won the last two league championships, will play Lansdale Catholic at 4 p.m. at Arcadia University. The Crusaders, who joined the league last year, are in their first league final.
The Bambies will try to atone for an 1-0, opening-game loss to Lansdale Catholic. Under the league's new format, divisional play was eliminated and the teams played each other only once.
Lansdale Catholic won that game despite being no-hit by Melissa Robinson, one of two senior starters for the Bambies. A passed ball allowed the run to score.
"I'm sure they've come a long way since that first game," Suder said. "Just like we have."
In addition to Robinson and senior rightfielder Sam Coyle, freshmen Gabby DeLeo, Erica Raggazzone, and Jessica Grzywna are key players for the Bambies.
Lansdale Catholic, which finished 10-10 last season, will counter with sophomore Mary Kate Scott on the mound. She has pitched every game for the Crusaders. Juniors Melissa Chapman, Brittany Bray, Kelly Shoener, and Kailyn Wunder are other top players.
Role change coming? Freshman catcher Michelle Cybularz helped lead Springside to a 9-4 victory over Penn Charter on Tuesday. The win gave the Lions a share of the Inter-Academic League championship for the first time in the 10 years that Stephanie Mill has coached the team.
"I know we haven't won one in the 12 years I've been here teaching," Mill said. "And I'm sure they didn't two or three years before I came here."
Mill expects Cybularz to take over the top pitching spot next season. Natalie Klotz, Springside's top pitcher since she was in eighth grade, is graduating.
"Michelle's been a great leader - on offense as well," Mill said. "She is strong and has five good pitches.
"When I first started [as coach], we were just trying not to give up 10 runs. Now, we're much more competitive."
The Lions finished 10-2 to share the championship with Agnes Irwin. They were 15-5 overall.
"Things look good for next season," Mill said. "Michelle is a great all-around player. She's caught and played second base for us. Now I'm looking for her to step in as pitcher."