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Tribe Softball Eyes a Return to State Tournament
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2021-04-14

            The culture established by Upper Perkiomen's head softball coach has recently reaped back-to-back district titles and three consecutive state tournament appearances. Practices are relaxed, but the players seem to respond to the pressure, according to Dean Sullivan.

Kylene Gooch scores on a wild pitch in the first inning amidst Up-

per Perkioimens six-run rally in Monday's game agains Pottstown.

            "When it's time to get down and dirty, the girls know the rules," he said. "They know what it takes to get the job done."

            The Tribe's bid for a fourth straight appearance in the PIAA Tournament, and the first season opening since 2019, started with consecutive victories over Pope John Paul and Pottstown. After beginning its 16-game, Pioneer Athletic Conference-only schedule with a 3-2 road victory over Pope John Paul II on Friday, April 9, its offense unloaded on the visiting Trojans on Tuesday. The team smacked two home runs in a 16-2 five-inning victory.

            According to Sullivan, the Indians will rely heavily on four seniors and three juniors who helped them finish third in the District One Class 5A Tournament in 2019. The quartet of 12th graders – including + Sierra Fretz, Jenna Sullivan, Lily Dibble and Taylor Croak – provides an effective combination of speed and versatility.

            Fretz can catch and play third base. Jenna Sullivan wreaks havoc on the bases with her speed. Croak starts the season as the number No. 1 pitcher. Croak, who can also pitch and plays first base, swings a heavy bat in the middle of the order.

            Juniors Kylene Gooch and Dani Freer combine effective offense with solid defensive skills at second base and shortstop, respectively.  Lynnsi Joyce plays left field, hits in the middle of the order and can also catch.

            However, whether or not the team can reach its goal of finishing in third place or better in the district playoffs will likely depend on a handful of ninth graders, according to Coach Sullivan. He described the top candidates, Ashley Forrest, Elizabeth Proctor and Madalyn Dyer as talented travel players who are still learning the pressure of high school competition.

             "These games are not timed, and they are pretty intense," the coach said. "I expect the seniors to help guide them through."

            In its season opener, the Tribe built a 3-0 lead through three innings, then hung on for the victory. Freer finished with two hits, including a home run, and scored twice. Gooch and Fretz each drove in a run for the team, which maximized its five hits. Dibble scattered five hits to register the mound victory. She struck out four and walked one.

            "That's a game we probably should have handled easily," Dean Sullivan said. "But Pope John Paul II gave us a challenge. It was a good way to start the season."

            On Tuesday, the Indians opened their home season with a lopsided victory as the offense battered Pottstown pitching for 17 hits.

            Joyce went 2-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored. Sullivan delivered two hits and two RBI. Fretz added two hits, including a home run for Upper Perkiomen, which scored six runs in the first inning and five more in the second. Freshman Kaylyn Adair – Freer's replacement at shortstop – delivered her first varsity hit, a leadoff home run in the third inning.

            "It was good to see her put the ball in play that hard," said Dean Sullivan, who added that he was pleasantly shocked by the home run. "I know the young players are putting in the work to stay on varsity."

            On the mound, Proctor and Gray allowed two runs on four hits against the Trojans. Proctor worked the initial two innings.

 


 

 

 

 

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