TOWAMENCIN >> The seeding in any District 1 tournament can be a fickle beast. Not that the top seeds don’t earn their place, but every now and then a really quality team ends up in the middle of the bracket.
The No. 4 and No. 5 seeds in the 6A class played a district-championship quality softball game Saturday morning.
Fifth-seeded Perkiomen Valley manufactured a second-inning run and rode pitcher Abby Wild the rest of the way in a 1-0 win over fourth-seeded North Penn.
“It’s a luxury, especially in a tight ballgame,” Perk Valley head coach Dan McLaughlin said about his pitcher. “It’s great to have her, not just because of how well she pitches but just the type kid (she is). She doesn’t get flustered.”
Wild pitched a complete game 1-hitter, striking out 12 in a dominant performance.
“Definitely the one run was really important and we got it early, that helps because it gives you confidence throughout the rest of the game,” Wild said. “Just being out on the mound with the team, I trust them behind me, so I’m confident in the circle.”
North Penn’s first hit didn’t come until the seventh inning with one out, when Bri Battavio stroked a clean single to left.
“I think we definitely rolled through the momentum,” Wild said. “They didn’t get many on base so to be able to just go and keep moving through is good.”
Wild took the starting pitching job at the beginning of the District 1 tournament last season and never looked back.
North Penn managed to get just a single runner in scoring position, but the rally was quickly cut out by a pair of Wild strikeouts to the Knights’ three and four-hole hitters. The Perk pitcher struck out multiple hitters in five of the final six innings.
“We knew she didn’t need many,” McLaughlin said. “The big thing with her is in a playoff game like this, kids are nervous and everything else. We’ve been through this before, and especially she has … just having her out there and having that experience from last year is obviously a luxury and it helps everybody relax.”
North Penn pitcher Bri Battavio was great in her own right, pitching a complete game and allowing just the one run.
“She pitched extremely well,” North Penn head coach Rick Torresani said. “She’s been doing that for us all year long. It’s a shame. She wanted it. She got the hit (on offense).”
The senior allowed six hits and struck out three in her effort.
“I’m heartbroken that we lost,” Battavio said. “Honestly I just tried to hit my spots and move around the plate. I feel like I did my best today and it just wasn’t our day.”
The lone run rally started with a leadoff double from Sela Fusco. A Wild groundout moved her to third, and another groundout from Jordan Sell accounted for the game’s only run.
“Our offense was struggling a bit, but one run is all we needed thanks to (Wild)…she’s the great equalizer,” McLaughlin said. “Even if we don’t play our best game; if she’s on we have the chance to beat anybody.”
With the win Perk Valley will face top-seeded Spring-Ford in the District semifinals. The victory also qualifies the Vikings for the PIAA state tournament for the third consecutive season.
“We’ve worked for years just to make it to states when I came up here, but to make it three straight years is a big honor,” McLaughlin said. “We’re proud that we’re able to accomplish that.”
North Penn will get another chance to qualify for the PIAA tournament at home against Quakertown in a playback game.
“I’m just glad, because in prior years when we lost in the quarterfinals … it was the end.” Torresani said. “At least we get another chance to come out. If they play this way and Bri pitches this way, we’re gonna get another shot at (Perk Valley) in the states.”
Perkiomen Valley 1, North Penn 0
Perkiomen Valley: 010 000 0 – 1 6 1
North Penn: 000 000 0 – 0 1 0
WP: Wild – 7IP 1H 0R 0ER 0BB 12K 1 HBP
LP: Battavio – 7IP 6H 1R 1ER 1BB 3K
2B: PV-Fusco, S., Hamm. NP-None.
CS: NP-Neal (Wild-Donigan)
Perkiomen Valley: Fusco, S. 1-3, R; Sell 0-2, RBI, SAC; Banger 2-3; Hamm 1-2.
North Penn: Battavio 1-3; Moyer 0-2, HBP.
Top Photo: Perkiomen Valley celebrates its District 1-6A quarterfinal victory over North Penn on Saturday, May 27, 2017. (Jeff Davis/For Digital First Media)