By: John Knebels
PHILADELPHIA - It’s been a couple of weeks since the Carpenter Cup Softball Classic came to a close. All the approximate 250 players that comprised the 16 teams from the tri-state area are either still competing somewhere or taking some much-deserved time to just chill and enjoy the final six or seven weeks of summer vacation.
According to everyone associated with the team, the memories of the Philadelphia Catholic League’s overall performance are plenty more positive than negative. Although the PCL dropped two straight games in the double-elimination tournament at South Philadelphia’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park complex, the showcase event sponsored by the Philadelphia Phillies supplied 15 PCL sophomores and juniors an opportunity to display their talents while numerous college coaches watched and took notes.
The athletes also benefited from experiencing a unique camaraderie of joining forces with players they normally compete against once – sometimes twice – a year.
2018 Philadelphia Catholic League Carpenter Cup Team - PSD Photo by John Knebels
“I really believe that every player benefits from playing with different players,” said Archbishop Wood coach Jackie Ecker, who piloted the PCL. “These girls play against each other during the season, and to now have the friendships that they made will make their PCL experience that much greater.”
In an 8-6 loss to New Jersey’s Olympic Colonial on June 26, the PCL fell behind, 7-1, after two innings and then 8-1 after five. The PCL’s offense suddenly awakened with a five -run sixth inning that proved too little too late, ruining a strong pitching performance by Little Flower sophomore Ginny Britto (3 innings, 4 hits, 1 unearned run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout).
Among the PCL’s hitting standouts were Cardinal O’Hara junior Jenna Smith (2 for 2, 4 runs batted in), O’Hara junior Lexi Galli (2-3, run scored, RBI), St. Hubert junior Erin Hogan (two walks, two runs scored), Archbishop Carroll junior Erin Boyle (1 for 2, run scored, RBI), Archbishop Ryan junior Meghan Kidd (1-3, triple), Bonner-Prendergast junior Hayley Rugh (1-1), Lansdale Catholic junior Rebecca Tiley (1-1), O’Hara junior Julia Kush (single, run scored), and the aforementioned Britto (1-2).
The PCL took the field against Delaware County West two hours later, resulting in an 8-0 defeat. The PCL’s only base runners were Kidd (single and walk), Lansdale Catholic sophomore Mary Picozzi (single), and Hogan (walk).
“The fact that these girls can represent their league should be taken very highly and hopefully, in future years, other girls will come to realize this as true,” said Ecker. “It was a pleasure coaching these young ladies and getting to know them, and I look forward to seeing them next season.”
The PCL players were asked to assess their overall experience. What was the most difficult aspect about being chosen to play in the Carpenter Cup? What were some of the benefits of dedicating time and energy to play in the tournament?
Julia Kush, Cardinal O’Hara, junior – “I am very honored to have represented Cardinal O’Hara softball along with my teammates Lexi Galli and Jenna Smith. My Pop Pop McMenamin loved watching me play softball, and I know he is very proud and looking down with a big smile. The most difficult aspect of being chosen to play is preparing for the tournament. The coaches did a great job setting up practices, which enabled our team to gel. One benefit of playing was developing new friendships. During the season we compete against each other and it was a nice to play together as a team. Another benefit was meeting college coaches, having discussions with them, and understanding their recruiting process. I will benefit from this experience for the rest of my life as it will be one of my favorite memories.”
Hayley Rugh, Bonner-Prendergast, junior – “It was a really cool experience being all together. We’re used to being competitive towards each other. All the girls who came to play on this team are really good. It felt good to be one of them.”
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Ava Brakoniecki, Archbishop Ryan, junior – “The most difficult aspect was not knowing what to expect as competition from the other teams since all of our normal competition was now on the same team. It was a fun experience. We got to face the challenge of playing together as a brand new team without a lot of time to practice. Even though we did not win any games, we all played well together and this was a great experience.”
Rebecca Tiley, Lansdale Catholic, junior – “The most difficult aspect would be that in a short amount of time you have to meet everyone from other schools and mesh quickly with each other. Also, while we practice for this tournament, most of us play on travel teams and some were even still in the state tournament for their schools so being able to balance it all was difficult at times but was definitely worth it. Overall I am so happy and grateful to have had this opportunity. I had such a great time playing with other girls from the PCL. It’s an honor to play and represent the PCL, and to meet all these amazing players and coaches made it a great experience and one I’ll never forget.”
Erin Boyle, Archbishop Carroll, junior – “I’ve never played with the girls that were on my team before. Usually you have time to learn and adapt to playing with new people and we did not have that much time. The benefits from playing are playing against the many other great players and seeing what I personally can work on. I learned a lot from the experience. Another benefit is being possibly seen by college coaches. It’s good exposure. I made friends from this team so that’s another plus. I can’t wait to possibly play again next year and show how I’ve grown.”
Mary Picozzi, Lansdale Catholic, sophomore – “The most difficult part about being chosen for the Carpenter Cup was making sure that I can represented the PCL well. It was great exposure to colleges. I’m glad I did it. Meeting and getting to know the girls was the best part.”
Lexi Galli, Cardinal O’Hara, junior – “The most difficult aspect about being chosen to play is trying to get used to everyone’s playing styles and getting on the same page. I have made many new friends and have gotten to learn from them and other coaches. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to play in the Carpenter Cup the past two years. I have found new friends and learned from them as well as my coaches. This experience is one that I will never forget.”
Meghan Kidd, Archbishop Ryan, junior – “The most difficult aspect about being chosen is that you are representing the entire Philadelphia Catholic League, not just your school team like during the regular season. Playing benefited me greatly because I met all the girls that I usually play against, and on this team we got to meet each other and play on the same team, which was fun. Additionally, playing against other really good teams brought the competitive aspect of the game back into our lives. Playing in the Carpenter Cup was a great experience and I am already counting down the days until next season now that I finally know other girls in the league.”
Samantha Burns, John W. Hallahan, sophomore – “You have to give it your all for these games. Scouts are watching and you have to prove yourself and show them who you are whether you are winning or losing. I made a lot of friends that I normally play against in the regular league. Having these friendships now will loosen up tension on the field for the following seasons. You get to play against so many other leagues and it gives you a chance to prove to them how good the Catholic League is. I'm happy I went out to try out for this team. If I didn't try out, I wouldn't have made the friendships I have now. I still have next year to dedicate myself and prove myself better than I did this year. It gives you opportunities of a lifetime and I'm really grateful.”
Ginny Britto, Little Flower, sophomore – “The most difficult part was not knowing who was going to be on the team and what the coaches expected of us. Once I met all of the girls and got to know the coaches, I was not worried at all. By dedicating myself to this tournament I have met so many amazing players and friends. I have gotten the chance to improve my skills by getting to meet different coaches. This tournament also gave me the opportunity to be seen by college coaches and represent Little Flower. I am so grateful to be selected and able to be involved to represent the Catholic League.”
Nina Rowan, John W. Hallahan, sophomore – “The most difficult aspect of playing would have to be playing with people I did not know. Since there is no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ it is important to know the people around you, but these were girls from all different schools. Not knowing these girls was at first a challenge, but luckily at each practice our bond became closer. Our (results) at the games were not how we expected them to be; however, we still played as a team. A benefit would be that it gave me an opportunity to experience what college ball will be like, playing with random girls and college coaches that are able to watch you play. Even though they cannot interact with you, they can still watch you for the future.”
Erin Hogan, St. Hubert, junior – The most difficult aspect was understanding the way everyone plays and getting used to it in the short amount of time we had. Now that it is over, some of the benefits from it are that we were able to be seen by college coaches and were just able to play. I had a great time playing with everyone. It was a good experience.”
Kate Barker, Archbishop Carroll, junior – “The most difficult aspect is the amount of pressure to do your best while college recruiters are watching you play. Some of the benefits of dedicating myself to play in the tournament include getting to know quality players from my previous rival teams from other schools and learning from the overall great experience. The Carpenter Cup was a great experience and I am truly blessed that I had the opportunity to partake in this event.”
Mia Viola, John W. Hallahan, junior – The most difficult aspect is playing with girls we do not know and these girls are who we play against in our own league all season. But in the end it was amazing to get together and see how we can work together as a team. I got to meet many new friends from different schools in my Catholic League and play with them as one. There were also many coaches there that we were able to show off our skills to. It was an amazing experience overall. Getting to know and play with these girls was a time I will never forget. Even though we did not do as well as we maybe wanted, we had an awesome time and got to show off all of our skills to the coaches we seen.”
Jenna Smith, Cardinal O’Hara, junior - “The most difficult thing was learning to form a bond with girls you just met and playing with people you never played with before. Some of the benefits were making new friends and seeing familiar faces from during the season. I also got to see different coaching styles. It was a great experience and an honor to be chosen to play.”
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Softball Philadelphia Catholic League Arch. Carroll Softball Arch. Ryan Softball Arch. Wood Softball Bishop McDevitt Softball Bonner & Prendie Softball Cardinal O'Hara Softball Conwell-Egan Softball John W. Hallahan Softball Lansdale Cath. Softball Little Flower Softball Saint Hubert Softball Neumann/Goretti Softball West Catholic Softball