ROYERSFORD- The Spring-Ford softball team lost three key players to graduation from last year's Pioneer Athletic Conference championship squad. But the remaining Rams and the newcomers got to know each other better during spring training in Florida. And they still have plenty of talent left, which was exemplified by their seniors on Tuesday afternoon at Ram Field against Boyertown.
Cassie Alexy drilled a go-ahead, two-run double, Gabby Tareila followed with another two-bagger to drive home what proved to be the deciding run, and Jess Nattle tracked down anything within range in a soggy left field for a 3-2 win in a rematch of last season's PAC-10 title game.
"That's our three seniors,' said Spring-Ford coach Tim Hughes, whose team improved to 3-0 in the league and 5-0 overall. "Those three do fantastic. That's what comes when you're a senior. You give it everything.'
The Bears (3-1 PAC-10 and overall) scored one in the first on a single through the middle by Elie Goida, a sacrifice by Amanda Loar, and a two-out double to center by Vicki Schlott.
Then Boyertown left-hander Mandy Kalil set the first seven Rams down in order. But Kylee Harris bunted back to the circle for a hit with one away in the third and then Morgan Maziarz singled to deep short. The runners moved up on a groundout, setting the stage for Alexy, who drove a 1-1 pitch to deep center to give the hosts the lead. Tareila followed with a liner down the left field line to bring home Alexy for a 3-1 advantage.
"Our bats are going to come around,' said Tareila. "We've been doing really good in the field. This was the first game on our field. It's a new season with new girls.'
"We always have to be on our toes,' Alexy added. "It's a new season.'
Boyertown did not pick up another hit until the fifth when Maddie Cotellese kept battling with two strikes and punched a hit to center with one out, Becky Marburger grounded a single to left, and Goida popped a hit to left-center to load the bases. That brought Amber Sergas on in relief of starter Jenna Lee and the Bears closed the gap to 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to left-center by Loar. But Sergas fanned the next batter to protect the lead.
The Bears had a chance to tie in the seventh thanks to infield errors with one out and two out, but Sergas wrapped up the win and earned a save when she got the next batter to bounce one to shortstop Tareila, who made a strong and accurate throw to first for the final out.
Hughes wasn't happy with the number of errors, but the Rams also showed some good defense as Nattle went a long way to catch foul flies leading off the second and third and Tareila made a nice play on a soft liner up the middle to end the third.
"I think we've played five games without making too many catastrophic errors,' said Hughes. "It's early. This is the first time we've played when it's above 30 degrees. I'm happy with the way the girls played. They came back from 1-0 against a very good team. I'm happy to get out with a win. We beat a really good team. I think this is going to be a tight league.'
Boyertown coach Brandi Hankins could not find fault with her team, which played without error in the field, but could come up with just the one big hit compared to the two by the Rams.
"That's how the balls fell today,' she said. "They played a great game. Unfortunately, Spring-Ford got one up on us. You can't be upset with how they played. They just got one more run today.'
Tareila thought that the pre-season time in Florida, during which the Rams won a pair of games, was a key to getting ready for another tough PAC-10 season.
"The spring training we had in Florida, we got to see how each other plays,' she said.
"We're doing great ... bonding really well,' Alexy added.
Hughes agreed that the trip did a lot of good besides just practicing softball.
"I think a lot of people think it's just softball,' he said. "A lot of it is getting team unity. It makes things a little more personal. They don't want to let each other down.'
Sergas allowed no hits and no walks over 2 2/3's innings while fanning three. ... Alexy, Harris, and Maziarz each collected two of the winners' seven hits and Goida had two of the Bears' five. ... No Rams struck out.