Earlier this month, Spring-Ford beat Boyertown, 5-3, to complete a sweep of its regular-season softball series with the Bears in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Fifteen days later, the Bears beat Spring-Ford, 3-1, in the conference championship game.
If you thought the Rams would be down after the Boyertown loss, you would have been wrong. In fact, the 14th-seeded Rams have caught fire. In three District 1 Class AAAA playoff games so far, the Rams have blanked Garnet valley, 10-0, pulled off the upset of the playoffs to date by stunning third-seeded Bishop Shanahan, 4-2, then topped sixth-seeded Souderton, 5-3.
That last win earned the Rams a date with No. 2 seed Hatboro-Horsham in a semifinal Tuesday at 4 p.m. at North Penn. The other semifinal that day will feature the third meeting of the season between Suburban One League National Division rivals Pennsbury and Neshaminy, at Council Rock North, also at 4 p.m.
"We're young, but the kids have been playing up," said Spring-Ford coach Tim Hughes. "I'd say we've been playing as well as we expected, and maybe better than what some other people expected."
Spring-Ford (18-5), ranked 10th in The Inquirer's weekly top 10, took advantage of four Souderton errors in its quarterfinal victory. A four-run sixth inning broke a 1-1 tie for the Rams.
Hughes has been counting on Haileigh Williams and Kristin Robinson for his pitching. Against Souderton, Robinson pitched 51/3 innings of scoreless relief to get the win. Allie Sasek, the ninth batter in the Rams' lineup, led the offense with three hits.
"Both of our pitchers have gotten about equal playing time," Hughes said. "It's nice to have the luxury of two pitchers who can do the job. They're confident and the kids are confident in them."
Hatboro-Horsham, the top team in The Inquirer's rankings, has relied on the steady pitching of Maggie Shaffer while compiling its 20-2 mark. Shaffer may not be overpowering, but she has a knack of placing her pitches very well. The Hatters also have a solid hitting lineup from top to bottom that features the likes of Julie Wambold, Val Sadowl, Danielle DiFilippo and Chrissy James.
Neshaminy (16-3), No. 3 in The Inquirer top 10, will get another crack at a relatively young Pennsbury team thanks to its 2-1 quarterfinal win over Owen J. Roberts. The victory was revenge for the Redskins. They had been beaten in the playoffs by the Wildcats the last two seasons.
The Redskins, under first year coach Dave Chichilitti, have two quality pitchers in Lauren Quense and Sarah McGowan. Quense hurled a two-hitter against Owen J.
Soph Val Buehler has been handling the pitching chores for Pennsbury (17-2), ranked No. 2 by The Inquirer. She tossed a four-hitter in the Falcons' 1-0 quarterfinal win over North Penn.
In other Tuesday playoff games, Pottsgrove will take on Radnor at Norristown and Pope John Paul will face Sun Valley at Villa Maria Academy in Class AAA action. Pottsgrove pulled a first round shocker by ousting top seed Nazareth Academy.
In Class AA play, Christopher Dock and Morrisville will meet at Upper Dublin and Springfield (Montgomery County) will play Villa Joseph Maria at William Tennent.
Bristol and Calvary Christian will meet at Pennsbury and Delaware County Christian and Friends Select will play at Plymouth-Whitemarsh in Class A semifinals. All games are at 4 p.m. except the game at Pennsbury. It will start at 2 p.m.
Records are through Friday.
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. Hat.-Horsham (1) 20-2
2. Pennsbury (2) 17-2
3. Neshaminy (4) 16-3
4. Owen J. Roberts (9) 18-4
5. Spring-Ford (10) 18-5
6. Downing. West (NR) 15-5
7. Bishop Shanahan (6) 15-3
8. Souderton (7) 15-5
9. Nazareth Acad. (5) 17-2
10. North Penn (NR) 14-7
- Don Beideman