NEWTOWN SQUARE - Phoenixville has been down this softball road before.
Often times in recent years, the Phantoms have been a low seed in the District 1-AAA playoffs. Nevertheless, several times veteran coach Joe Bogus’ team has gone on the road and upended a higher-seeded team to advance in the tournament.
Phoenixville has employed that method again for the 2013 season. The 10th-seeded Phantoms foiled No. 7 Marple Newtown, 5-1, in the pigtail round Wednesday afternoon.
That means the Phantoms (10-11) will continue on to play at No. 2 Nazareth Academy in the quarterfinal round Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Philadelphia.
Phantom senior pitcher Rachel Boone carried a no-hit shutout into the sixth inning before ending the contest with a two-hitter, nine strikeouts and just one walk.
Boone was aware that she had the no-hitter going.
“I was a little burned when the girl got the hit,” said Boone. “But it happens. My teammates helped me out. It definitely feels good to come back and win, especially as the number 10 seed. No one expected it from us.”
Marple Newtown (9-12) had just two baserunners in the first five frames, and both of those girls reached base via errors. Then McKenzie Banes reached base on a walk after working a full count to start the sixth inning. Sarah Anderson took her spot on base as a courtesy runner.
The next batter, Erin Murphy, grounded one back to the circle that Boone got a glove on but could not hold and it bounced to third baseman Nicole Lemon, who could not make a play. Leadoff batter Julia Allman lofted a ball to shallow left-center field that just eluded diving Phoenixville center fielder Meghan Loughery and went for an RBI double.
Phoenixville gave Boone a nice cushion by scoring three runs in the top of the second inning and two more in the third. The Phantoms scored three runs on three hits and one error in the second. In the third, the visitors tallied twice on two hits and another error. Three of the runs were unearned.
Nicole Kelly pitched a full seven innings for the Tigers and allowed seven hits and five runs with four strikeouts and one walk.
“It’s always nice to have a little safety,” said Boone. “My teammates are always there behind me and supporting me.”
Boone has developed a good rhythm with her battery mate, catcher Courtney Panepinto.
“Courtney is amazing,” said Boone. “She calls a great game. She always does.”
Shortstop Gianna Bliss finished 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and run scored to help lead the Phoenixville offense. Kelly Knapp also contributed a 2-for-3 showing with one run.
Michelle Stehman, Bailey Quinn and Boone had the other hits for Phoenixville. Quinn beat out a bunt single to start the third inning. She stole second base and scored on a throwing error on a ball hit by Loughery. Loughery then came across the plate on a single by Bliss to right field.
“I am glad I did bring it back,” said Bliss. “I had been in a little slump so to bring it back feels good. We definitely want to go as far as we can. This is our last chance (seniors). I want to play with these girls for as long as I can. We have been playing together since kindergarten. This is a great group of girls. I want to spend as much time with them as I can.”
Bogus was pleased with his forces.
“I thought the kids played well,” said Bogus. “Rachel did a real nice job on a lot of their top hitters. She had nine strikeouts, which is a nice outing.
“Bliss is coming around. It took her part of the season after missing last season with the torn ACL. Her stroke is really getting better.”
Panepinto reached via an error in the second inning, and courtesy runner Lauren Daugherty scored the third run on Stehman’s single to center field. ... Bogus applauded Tigers third baseman Sami O’Keefe for her defensive work charging grounders in Phoenixville’s small-ball game.