The first two innings in the circle belonged to Theresa Haug.

The third and fourth were Jayme Ziegler's.

By the time Kayla Ventura went in for the save on Tuesday, the Central Bucks East pitchers had Pennridge batters on their toes, unsure of what was coming next.

The game of musical chairs in the circle that the Patriots have been playing has paid off, with each player bringing her own style to the mound.

"We play against a lot of really strong teams offensively, so it is something we've done the past couple of games to keep them off balance," coach Erin Scott said. "It seems to be working."

The Patriots hope that the strategy will stay successful this week as they prepare for the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA softball playoffs. East is among nine Suburban One League teams that qualified.

C.B. East is the seventh seed in the tournament, earning a first-round bye. On Wednesday, the Patriots will play the winner of Methacton vs. William Tennent, two teams they did not face during the regular season.

"They are really jelling and playing well together," Scott said of her players. "It is nice to see."

The Patriots (14-4), ranked fifth in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, finished the regular season a game behind Hatboro-Horsham in the Suburban One Continental Conference, and were in the hunt for the league title until the last week of the regular season. Since six teams from their conference made the tournament, there is a good chance that division foes will meet again.

If the Hatters and Patriots win their second-round games, they will face off Friday in the quarterfinals. Hatboro-Horsham swept the regular-season series with East.

Scott cites the seniors' leadership as a major reason for the team's success.

Catcher Julia Schoenewald, centerfielder Allie Chase, and shortstop Jess Haug have been senior standouts for the Patriots, with Carla Ruscio and Ziegler also making their marks.

"At a time in their life when they are getting excited for graduation and prom and all of that, they've been focused and driven," Scott said. "They've wanted it just as much as the coaches and their teammates. They've led this whole squad.

"I definitely think they are getting confident and they know this is their last opportunity."

The Inquirer TOP 10

SOFTBALL

Team Rec.

Last week's rankings in parentheses.

1. Neshaminy (1) 17-1

2. Pennsbury (2) 16-3

3. H.-Horsham (4) 16-3

4. C.B. South (6) 13-6

5. C.B. East (3) 14-4

6. Nazareth Ac. (8) 15-2

7. St. Hubert (10) 16-3

8. Pennridge (5) 12-8

9. Henderson (9) 18-2

10. Con.-Egan (7) 14-7

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Haverford (14-3), Lansdale Catholic (14-6), North Penn (12-7), Upper Darby (16-3).

- Kate HarmanEndText