Bucks County Herald

Bell twirls two-hitter against Tennent as Pennridge ends 5-0 week

DAVID CAMPBELL

Meghan Bauer had a pitch-count limit of one on Friday.

Pennridge head coach Carol Atkinson wanted to give all six of her seniors the start on Senior Night at Sellersville’s Earl B. Druckenmiller Park as Suburban One League (SOL) Continental Conference foe William Tennent paid a visit.

After Bauer threw a ball to Panthers leadoff hitter Marissa Govan, Atkinson summoned Kailyn Bell to the circle. Bell permitted a single to Govan, and then spent the rest of the contest watching her infielders scoop up ground ball after ground ball in a defensive gem won by the Rams, 5-0.

“I trusted my team behind me,” said Bell, who also got into the act, registering five putouts of her own, including all three in the top of the third.

At one point in the second through sixth innings, Bell retired 12 straight via the ground out. She allowed only two hits all game and didn’t walk a batter. Her lone strikeout came in the top of the seventh when she got three-hole bat Brianna Koonce, one of the toughest hitters in the league to punch out.

“It was really tight tonight,” Bell said of her D, which didn’t commit an error. “We just wanted to come out with the win, and we have districts in sight right now and I think that’s why we wanted to win tonight.”

Kiley Watson flashed the leather at shortstop and came up with the biggest hit of the evening: a three-run triple that she tucked inside the third-base line in a three-run Pennridge second. The leadoff bat’s clutch hit came with two outs.

“We had bases loaded,” Watson said, “and my mindset was just to get a hit.”

Watson went 3-for-3 with a first-inning walk.

“She’s unstoppable,” Atkinson said of her sophomore. “She’s popping it where it needs to be, just place-hitting it. She looks to see where that ball needs to be and she’s hitting that spot.”

The Rams added single runs in the third and fourth. Mary Kate Levush singled and scored on an error in the third; she finished with two hits in three at-bats and a stolen base in the second. In the fourth, Bell’s sacrifice fly to right plated senior Nicole Leight, who had singled. Leight also scored on Watson’s triple.

“I think it all just started meshing together in the last couple weeks,” Atkinson said of her 11-8 (6-6 SOL Continental) club.

The victory over the Panthers capped a 5-0 week for the Rams, who suddenly are in position to make the District One Class AAAAAA field with a solid final week. Pennridge was 21st in Sunday’s power rankings; the top 20 teams get in.

“Their eyes are on the playoffs,” second-year skipper Atkinson said. “They haven’t been in the playoffs in five years, and they set a goal this last week [to go] five for five – and they [went] five for five. And our defense is unstoppable right now. They’ve been awesome. They’re playing together.”

Third baseman Samantha Harty and first baseman Grace McGinley, both seniors, each gobbled up three ground-ball outs against Tennent. Senior second baseman Krista Yerk fielded the only ball hit her way cleanly.
Harty, Atkinson said, “has the quickest hands, I think, in the league right now.”

“I think all of us are kind of in a groove,” Bell said, “and I think we hit that stride.”

“I think in the beginning of the season,” Watson said, “there was a lot of pressure and just nerves that were going on, but I think now we’ve settled in. We’re five for five this week. We found our groove as a team and it’s just fun.”

The underclassmen, Bell and Watson agreed, weren’t going to lose Friday’s contest, not with it being the seniors’ final regular season home game.

“I think everyone just wanted to get a win for them,” said junior Bell, who teams with Bauer to give Atkinson two very good starters in the circle.

“This game was dedicated to them, and we used that as motivation to win the game,” Watson concluded.

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

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