PHILADELPHIA – During the regular season, the softball teams at Paul VI High School, Haddonfield, and Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, Pennsauken, compete against each other with grit and determination. No time for verbal pleasantries. No interest in high fives and smiles.
This past week at South Philadelphia’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park complex, however, three players from each squad became teammates when they represented the Olympic Colonial Conference at the 14th-annual Carpenter Cup Classic. A showcase event sponsored by the Philadelphia Phillies, the tournament allows sophomores and juniors to participate in a double-elimination format while numerous college coaches execute their collective due diligence hoping to find a pearl or diamond among the approximate 250 players that comprise the 16 squads from the tri-state area.
Although the Olympic Colonial only won one of three games, to say that the six Catholic school representatives simply held their own is a serious understatement.
“The part that I liked most was how we were all able to come together to play and share our love of the game,” said Bishop Eustace junior Grace Kelly. “The environment with all of the girls was great. It was an awesome opportunity.”
Coached by Bishop Eustace coach and former star shortstop Macie McGeehan, the Olympic Colonial defeated the Philadelphia Catholic League, 8-6, lost to the Inter-Academic League by a forgettable 11-1, and dropped a 12-9 slugfest against the Suburban One League.
Every single Catholic school player contributed solid statistics. Paul VI sophomore Emily MacGibeny collected two hits, two runs batted in, and two runs scored. Paul VI sophomore Morgan Fisher offered a team-best 4 for 11 with five runs scored, two RBI, and a triple. Paul VI sophomore Emma Laliberte went 3 for 9 with a double and two runs scored, and she notched an RBI in all three games.
Bishop Eustace junior Cam Rachuba amassed two hits, three RBI, and a run scored. Eustace sophomore Maddie Grubb had two hits, two runs scored, a walk, and a triple. The aforementioned Kelly had a hit, walk and RBI.
In the 11-1 loss to the Inter-Ac, the Olympic Colonial scattered only six base runners. Four of them were by Paul VI and Bishop Eustace, and a Laliberte single that followed a Fisher triple produced the team’s only run. Laliberte started the contest as pitcher and fired four strong innings, surrendering only three hits and one earned run.
“Overall I think we did well as a team,” said Laliberte. “It was hard at first to come together, but we finally gelled. Our last game we fought the whole game. It was a fun experience to get to work with everyone.”
“Our team had a lot of talent and we played really well together, but there were just some times where we didn’t have such strong innings,” said Grubb. “It was such a great experience to have teammates that I played against, and then competing with them on my side was pretty cool.”
The six players from Paul VI and Bishop Eustace particularly appreciated playing together as one.
“Playing with girls from Eustace was a great experience,” said Fisher. “They went from rivals to teammates overnight. Coach Macie was an assistant coach last year at Paul VI and it was great playing for her again. Carpenter Cup was a great experience playing good competition but also making new friends.”
MacGibeny, who tied a tourney record with two sacrifice flies in the 8-6 win, said “making new friends is always fun” and helps everyone have a “great time.” Rachuba concurred. She said she noticed an almost immediate “strong bond” among the six players.
“It was almost like we knew each other before we played together,” she said.
If they didn’t then, they certainly do now. It should make next spring’s battles between Paul VI and Bishop Eustace rather interesting. And, perhaps, just a tad more friendly.