NEWTOWN, Pa. — What a difference a year has made for neighboring Council Rock North and Villa Joe Marie softball teams.
A year ago, Rock North struggled through a very difficult 1-18 campaign, while Villa Joe compiled a sparkling 19-4 record and advanced all the way to the PIAA state semifinal game.
Well, as they say, that was then and this is now, because it was a completely different story Friday afternoon as Rock North rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Gems as Molly Sheehy blasted a dramatic game-winning, two-run home run. , a two-out homer over the center field fence in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With the win, Rock North improved to 4-0 and set up a Monday afternoon showdown in Newtown against undefeated sister school Council Rock South.
Villa Joe is now 2-4 and has already tied the loss total from all of last year despite the fact that the calendar hasn’t yet reached April.
It was a well-played game with one error and for most of the day it looked like VJM might hand the Indians their first loss of the year.
Ava Tsiuplis was instrumental in giving the Gems a 4-1 lead after five innings. Easily one of the top shortstops in the entire area, Tsiouplis hit a pair of tough doubles for VJM, which also got a two-out single from pitcher Leah Pagano in the third inning off Rock North freshman Lucy Mills.
With the lead quickly dwindling, Rock North tied the game in the sixth when Taylor Gearhart blasted a three-run homer to center field with one out to tie the game at 5-all.
VJM came right back and took the lead in the seventh. After Abby Phillips led off with an infield single, Rock North chose to walk Tsiouplis on purpose, even though it put the go-ahead run at second with no outs.
Mills nearly got out of the inning, but ended up giving up Lindsey Rooney’s RBI single in a game in which VJM decided to hold the speedy Tsiuplis to third with two outs.
That decision proved to be fatal, as in the bottom of the inning, Olivia Schlindwein singled, stole second, and then ran home Sheehy’s game-winner over the center field fence, setting off a jubilant celebration at home.
Villa Joe Marie (2-4) 003 010 1 – 5 5 1
Council Rock North (4-0) 010 003 2 – 6 5 0
WP-Mills. LP-Pagano. 2B-Tsiuplis (VJM) 2. HR-Gearhart (CRN), Sheehy (CRN). RBI: VJM-Tsuplis, Pagano 3, Rooney. CRN-Gearhart 3, Sheehy 2.