MARPLE — All-Delcos Molly Rafferty and Lauren DelRomano looked at each other with the same thought in mind: Let's win this game.
Cardinal O'Hara's three-and four-hole hitters would deliver in a huge way.
After DelRomano sliced a two-out triple to the gap in left-center field, Rafferty drilled the walkoff single to just about the same spot in the O'Hara outfield. DelRomano trotted home and the Lions celebrated a 3-2 victory over Lansdale Catholic Thursday afternoon in a battle for first place in the Catholic League.
The Lions (10-1, 8-0) handed the Crusaders (12-2, 8-1) their first conference loss of 2014.
"I was so nervous, to be honest," said DelRomano, who kept the rally going in the seventh inning with another one of her clutch extra-base hits. The senior second baseman entered the day as the county leader in doubles. "We both came up to each other and said, 'We've gotta do this.' Going up to the plate I was just thinking I had to do something to get something going. We needed someone on base."
LC ace Danielle Eckroth had done a good job keeping the Lions in check after allowing a two-RBI double off the bat of Taylor Connor in the first inning.
"She threw a good changeup and she threw it a lot," DelRomano said. "I know that was throwing me off a little. She had a good spin on the ball — she's a good pitcher."
The Crusaders chipped away at the early 2-0 deficit with RBI doubles off Rafferty in the third and fifth innings.
But the bottom of the seventh was DelRomano and Rafferty's time to shine.
"To me, the pitch just looked like an outside fastball," Rafferty said of her game-winning bullet. "As Del said, we just told each other, 'We have to do this, we have to win this game.' So, with two outs, I saw Del there on third base and I knew I couldn't leave her there."
How good are the Lions in 2014? Not only are they the frontrunners to capture the Catholic League championship by virtue of their win Thursday, their lone loss came at the hands of Springfield, the No. 1 team in this week's Super 7 on Delcohssports.com. Since that defeat in early-April, O'Hara has reeled off seven consecutive victories and is playing with a swagger and confidence that is unrivaled in Delaware County. The Lions have big out-of-league wins and are proving they can handle the stiffest of Catholic League competition.
"All day at school, we were thinking about this game and texting in a group chat with everybody — let's go, let's get this win," Rafferty said. "We were really ready to play."
To set up her heroics, Rafferty retired the side in order in the top of the seventh. In the bottom half, Eckroth got speedster Jackie Marshall and slugger Grace Boston out with ease before Del Romano stepped to the dish and did what she's done the past two seasons — rake. Del Romano, Rafferty and freshman center fielder Maura Kane all popped two hits.
There's still plenty of work to be done before the Lions can truly call 2014 a successful season, but they are headed in the right direction. There's a good chance they'll see LC again come playoff time.
"Since that Springfield game, we've come together so much," Del Romano said. "We're a confident team and we believe in each other."
In the Central League:
Springfield 7, Marple Newtown 5: The first-place Cougars (13-1, 11-1) needed 11 innings to dispatch the host Tigers. The hero was winning pitcher Tori DePietro, who came through with a double in the 11th, driving home Taylor Winkelman for the go-ahead run. DePietro also belted a two-run homer and finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. She earned the win in relief of Courtney Scarpato, striking out five and allowing only one hit and two walks in four innings of work.
Kaity Baumann went 3-for-6 and knocked in DePietro for Springfield's final run. Rylee Power ripped a triple for Marple Newtown.
In nonleague action:
Interboro 11, Upper Merion 4: In her first varsity start, freshman Amber Seaman collected two hits, including a double, and an RBI for the Bucs (7-4). Becca Reifer got the save in relief of her sister Rachel, who struck out four over six innings of work. Brandi James was 3-for-4 with two ribbies and Annette Helmandollar smacked a double.