TOWAMENCIN » Jordan Pietrzykoski had no doubt North Penn softball’s offense would arrive — at some point.
“We do sometimes take a little bit to get going but we always come through,” the senior second baseman said. “At least for inning four, inning five we always come through with the big bats. I knew it was coming, it just taking a little bit of time today.”
After the second-seeded Knights and No. 3 Pennsbury traded zeroes for four innings in their District 1-6A semifinal, Pietrzykoski helped North Penn’s bat show up and break through in the bottomof the fifth, ripping a one-out RBI single up the middle to score Sophia Collins from second base for Wednesday afternoon’s opening run. “Well I was just trying to not to do too much,” Pietrzykoski said. “I knew I had runners on, if I try to do too much I would most likely be unsuccessful. So I was just trying to keep it controlled, keep it cool and put the ball in play.”
The Knights went on to add three more runs in the inning and that was more than enough for Mady Volpe, who struck out 10 in tossing a one-hit shutout as North Penn earned its first district final appearance since 2014 with a 4-0 victory over the Falcons.
“That’s the way it’s been all season, if we don’t start early somewhere along the line the kids go out there and somehow, someway — I hope it continues — we are able to put more than one run up,” North Penn coach Rick Torresani said. “They usually put three or four up like they did today in an inning. And that’s what’s going to happen. Hopefully it’ll continue tomorrow.”
Pietrzykoski was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored while Carley DiGiuseppe went 2-for-3 as the Knights (21-1) advance to face No. 4 Downingtown West in the final 2 p.m. Thursday at Immaculata University. West handed topseeded Spring-Ford its first loss of the season 5-3 in the other semifinal Tuesday.
“I knew everything about Spring-Ford, nothing about West,” Torresani said. “And obviously they’re a good team. You had to be a good team to beat Spring-Ford. So I’ll make a few phone calls tonight from friends that I have over there and I’ll see what we can get.
“But again if we come out and play our game, it’s just a matter of scoring some runs and getting good pitching. We’ll see what happens.”
The district final is the third for the Knights since 2012 with North Penn facing Ches-Mont teams in all three — beating Bishop Shanahan in the 2012 4A final for its last district championship then falling to Avon Grove in the 2014 4A title game.
“We just got to make sure our energy’s up,” Pietrzykoski said. “We can do a lot when our energy’s up, when our passion’s up so we’re just going to come out and we’re going to give it our all.”
Pennsbury, which was trying to reach its first district final since 2011, visits Spring-Ford in the district third place game on May 30.
“I think first of all (Volpe) is a very good pitcher,” Falcons coach Frank McSherry said. “But we didn’t make the adjustments that we needed to make. Softball’s a game of adjustments, we didn’t adjust at all. And you can’t do that against a good pitcher and a sound team and they certainly are.”
The only hit Volpe allowed to the Falcons (18-3) was Carley Parsons’ one-out single to left in the top of the first but the NP sophomore right-hander proceeded to strike out the next two batters.
“I didn’t even realize it was a one-hitter but I tried to work on some pitches like my riseball and my curveball, my screwball,” Volpe said. “And I was just trying to get ahead of batters and throw strikes.”
Volpe, who gave up three walks, posted eight of her 10 strikeouts in the first three innings, including striking out the side in the third.
“That’s huge when your pitcher can come out and shut them down like that in the first couple innings and they don’t even get a really hard-hit ball, that sets the tone for the whole game,” Torresani said. “And with Mady’s speed and Mady’s movement, and she’s a tough pitcher to hit. And if she’s on and we score three, four runs, we’re pretty good.”
Pennsbury starting pitcher Ainsley McClure stranded a pair of baserunners in both the first and fourth but the Knights finally got to the freshman righty in the fifth. McClure took the loss, allowing four runs — all earned — on eight hits, walked two and struck out three.
Pennsbury 000 000 0 — 0 1 1 North Penn 000 040 x — 4 8 0
WP: Mady Volpe; LP: Ainsley McClure North Penn: Jordan Pietrzykoski 2-4, RBI; Carley DiGiuseppe 2-3.