Bucks County Herald

CB West shuts out Palisades

DON LEYPOLDT



CB West reliever Kayla Gallagher winds up. She and starter Angelina Sherba silenced the Pirate bats.

You can’t spell “birthday” without the R, B and I.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t stop smiling,” Central Bucks West shortstop Samantha Trafford beamed.

“It’s a really good birthday.”

Trafford gave herself the present of a game-winning RBI. The birthday girl’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third last Wednesday plated DH Shannon Stewart for the only run of the CB West-Palisades game. The Bucks (1-7 overall) needed just 75 minutes to win, 1-0.

Three Buck and Pirate pitchers combined to walk only three in a brisk, clean game.

CB West starter Angelina Sherba cruised through three innings, fanning six of her first 11 batters.

“Honestly, it’s the vibe of the team,” Sherba said. “We’re all so friendly with each other. But you still have to dig down and make it happen.”

Sherba took the circle in the fourth with a 1-0 lead but gave up a leadoff double to Palisades pitcher Kerstin Koenig.

“My strength is hitting pitching that’s a little faster,” Koenig said, “so it’s nice that [Sherba] had speed.”

Koenig was bunted to third, but Sherba recorded two big strikeouts to strand her and end the frame.

“That was really big. It was obviously nerve-wracking because you don’t want to give up anything,” Sherba admitted, “but having everyone behind me [defensively] was really helpful.”

CB West threatened again in the sixth. Freshman DH Ella Castronuovo singled but was thrown out trying to score on Kelly Cyliax’s two-out double.

Fellow freshman Kayla Gallagher subbed in for Sherba and faced one batter over the minimum to get the three-inning save. Gallagher struck out four.

“I stayed focused, kept my head in the game, took my time and trusted my defense,” Gallagher described.

“We’ve been doing that all year to keep them fresh,” CB West head coach Geoff Thompson added. “Angelina is a lefty and we bring in Kayla the righty to throw them off a little bit.”

Koenig pitched well enough to win. She yielded four hits in a complete game and only two safeties left the infield. Koenig struck out just one, but the Pirates defense played nearly flawlessly behind her.

“It was nice knowing that since the defense was doing so well, I could just pitch my game and trust that my team had my back,” Koenig said. “They did. It makes it easy for a pitcher.”

Added Palisades leftfielder Cheyenne Guinan, “We really needed to hold them on defense – that was the main priority – because we weren’t getting on base too much. We worked on this a lot in practice. I definitely think the strength of the team is defense.”

“Our goal was to win, but if we were only going to win 1-0, then we definitely had to make sure our defense was perfect,” Trafford noted. “That is what wins games.”

Palisades (3-6) outscored its opponents 34-0 in its wins and was outscored 47-12 in its first three losses. Head coach Brian Ritter left Doylestown happy with the team’s effort.

“Defense has been dictating our success, which is not unusual in softball,” he observed. “A pitcher and catcher can lock up and mask some things, but it’s really important that when the ball is in play, the fielders make that play.

“We’ve had lopsided scores in both directions,” he continued. “In two of our wins, Kerstin scattered seven hits but not a lot of strikeouts, which goes back to playing solid defense. In the games we did lose, the scores didn’t reflect the gap between the teams. It came down to us giving extra outs and that’s going to hurt.”

Thompson felt that walks and defense had been an Achilles’ heel.

“It was nice to have no errors and we scored one big run,” he shared. “Everyone had good at-bats. We had a lot of line drives right at them, but as long as they hit it hard, that’s all I ask for.”

Last Wednesday’s game marked a busy stretch as both teams would play five games in eight days. CB West lost to Council Rock North, 1-0, on Monday and succumbed to rival Central Bucks East, 7-2, on Tuesday. Palisades opened the week falling to first-place Northern Lehigh, 4-1, in Colonial League action. Wednesday’s Notre Dame-Green Pond contest finished after the Herald’s deadline.

Last Wednesday’s effort also gave both sides confidence.

“We saw how close we were and how we could have won this,” Guinan predicted. “It will make us push harder for wins.”

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