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Sports Article
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Tribe Softball Returns to District Title Game
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent

            Clutch pitching, timely hitting and solid defense allowed Upper Perkiomen's softball team to earn a measure of revenge and play for a district title. It posted an 8-2 win over Villa Maria Academy in the District One Class 4A semifinals Tuesday.

            The Indians avenged a loss in last year's district title game. They will take on Pope John Paul II at 4 p.m. Thursday at Methacton High School.

            Pitcher Erin Gray scattered seven hits and benefitted from mostly airtight defense to record the complete game win. Her catcher, Ashley Forrest, delivered two hits and two RBIs to help pace an offense that banged out 12 hits.

            "It was a really, really, really, really good win," coach Dean Sullivan said after the game. "I'm proud of the way the girls came out and competed."

            The Tribe (10-11) overcame a 1-0 deficit in the third after Darby Gasda (three hits) and Brooke Sullivan reached on singles with one out and both came home on a booming triple to left center by Elizabeth Proctor.

            Forrest put down a perfect squeeze bunt for a third run and the fourth run of the inning scored on a sacrifice fly by Morgan Robinson.

            Sullivan was more than pleased with his team's execution.

            "Timely hitting, aggressive on the bases. We got our bunts down. Everything we did today was kind of picture-perfect," he said.

            Madelyn Deeble manufactured a run in the fourth, reaching on a throwing error and scoring on another throwing error as she stole third.

            Upper Perkiomen put the game out of reach with a three-spot in the seventh. Forrest (double), Robinson and Ryan Berg delivered RBI hits

            For a team that has struggled to play consistent defense this season, the bottom of the first began ominously when Villa's pesky leadoff hitter Ella McHugh (two hits, two runs scored) lashed a ground ball that went through third baseman Riley Eden's legs for an error. McHugh would eventually score on Alex Kilpatrick's two-out single.

            But Eden and the defense would more than make up for that unearned run. Among notable defensive gems were Deeble's running catch in left in the second and Eden spearing a line drive with bases loaded in the fifth and corralling a hard-hit grounder to end the sixth.

            "I'm just proud of the team. The defense was really good," said Gray, who relied on her screwball and a drop curve that she used early in the contest.

            The defense made life easier– and kept the pitch count down – for Gray, who retired the last nine hitters she faced.

            "We were worried about tiring her out the third time through the lineup," said Dean Sullivan. "But her pitch count was a kind of low today. Our defense played great behind her."

            The coach used last year's stinging defeat to Villa (12-6) to motivate his squad this year.

            "We owed them from last year for knocking us out of the championship game," Dean Sullivan said. "It was a big building factor for our team to approach this game wanting to win as opposed to just getting a win."

            The Tribe will face the Panthers, its Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals, for the third time this season. Pope John Paul II, which won both previous games in the series, defeated Merion Mercy 11-5 on Tuesday to advance. The winner will qualify for the PIAA Championships.

            "We have the confidence," Dean Sullivan said. "We know their team, they know our team, so it's probably going to be a good battle."






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