With catcher Kelsey Koelzer nursing a sore elbow, Hatboro-Horsham softball coach Joe DiFilippo decided to move shortstop Julie Wambold behind the plate just before the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs opened on May 23.
"I was shocked when Coach asked me," Wambold said Tuesday, after she had belted a solo home run, her eighth homer of the season, to help power the Hatters to a 3-0 win over Spring-Ford in the district semifinals at North Penn.
"I caught before, but that was a long time ago," Wambold added. "There were some things that I had to get used to. I feel confident and comfortable behind the plate now."
The Hatters (21-2) scored a couple of runs before Wambold's homer, and with Maggie Shaffer's two-hit pitching, that was all they needed to move into the Thursday's district final against Pennsbury, a 5-2 semifinal winner over Neshaminy. The time and place have not been decided.
As for her homer, Wambold said she didn't think it would leave the playing field in left field.
"After my first two at-bats," Wambold said, referring to pop-ups to the mound and center field, "all I wanted to do was get a hit. I didn't think it would clear the fence. All I saw was a girl on the ground."
The girl on the ground was Spring-Ford leftfielder Marisha Bates, who hit the fence and tumbled over it trying to make a catch.
Shaffer had a perfect game going until Liz Bayer singled with one out in the fourth inning. Bayer had both hits off Shaffer but did not get past first base either time.
Bayer was erased in the seventh inning on a slick double play from Shaffer to shortstop Val Sadowl to first baseman Danielle DiFilippo.
"Maggie showed what a tough player she is," said Wambold, noting the pitcher had the only other extra-base hit, a second-inning double.
The Hatters' other two runs came in the fourth inning. With one out, Koelzer, who played left field, walked. Shaffer bunted Koelzer to second. Heather Lutz was hit by a pitch before Jackie DiPietro beat out a grounder for a hit, scoring Koelzer. A throwing error on the play at first allowed Lutz to score the second run.
Starting pitcher Kristen Robinson took the loss for the Rams (18-6), who will advance to the state tournament.
"Hatboro's a good team. They deserved to win today," Spring-Ford coach Tim Hughes said. "They were certainly better than we were. We did not play up to our standard.
"We played them in a scrimmage and did well against Shaffer. She had our number today."
Spring-Ford 0000000 - 021
Hatboro-Horsham 000210x - 370
WP: Maggie Shaffer. LP: Kristen Robinson. 2B: HH-Shaffer. HR: HH-Julia Wambold.