Peering through the notebook with three weeks left in Catholic League sports, drama is running rampant everywhere.
In baseball, La Salle, Archbishop Wood and Cardinal O’Hara cling together in first place with identical 7-1 records. Among the three, La Salle defeated O’Hara, 11-8, and will host Archbishop Wood on May 8. Wood and visiting O’Hara will meet in the regular-season finale on May 13.
La Salle senior Gavin Moretski reflected on the victory over O’Hara.
“That was our most impressive win,” said Moretski. “We knew we had to make a mark and give it our all the rest of the way. We jumped on them right away in the first inning with a couple hits and throughout the game we kept the same energy.”
Since a season-opening 3-1 loss to Archbishop Carroll, the Explorers have won seven straight. Over the past four they have been dominant, outscoring St. Joseph’s Prep, Bishop McDevitt, Neumann-Goretti and Bonner-Prendergast by 40 to 5. The latter two squads are tied with Archbishop Carroll for sixth place with identical 5-3 records.
Moretski notched the pitching win over Neumann-Goretti, which ended 11-1 and lasted six innings thanks to the 10-run rule. Junior Justin Igoe slammed a home run and knocked in five runs. In the victory at Bonner-Prendergast, the Explorers severed a 2-2 tie with three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth. Senior Owen Lawn’s homer helped make a victor out of junior Colin McVeigh.
“Based off the (Catholic League championship) team last year, we lacked experience early on,” said Moretski. “We started to figure things out as the games kept coming.”
In girls’ softball, defending champion Archbishop Ryan is a league-best 8-0, but on the Ragdolls’ heels are Cardinal O’Hara at 7-0 and Lansdale Catholic at 8-1. In common opponents, Ryan edged Lansdale Catholic, 3-2. Ryan will visit O’Hara on May 2. In the season finale on May 7, O’Hara will visit Lansdale Catholic.
O’Hara senior Lexi Galli was asked about the unpredictable final scores that have flooded the league. Even teams with great pitching have surrendered an uncommon amount of runs. Conversely, contests that figure to provide a lot of offense have done just the opposite.
“I believe it depends on the competitive level of each team,” said Galli. “The quality and chemistry of players on certain teams is different than others. Traditionally strong teams now may be headed toward rebuilding years with graduating seniors, which will make the struggling teams stronger in the future.”
One thing is certain — nothing less than a Catholic League title would satisfy the Lions, who have yet to seize a softball plaque.
“As a four-year starter, we came close to the championship in my freshman year,” said Galli, referring to a loss to Archbishop Ryan in the final. “The seniors and I would love to do it in our last year and give O’Hara their first Catholic League championship.”
Unless something unforeseen occurs, the other three pre-quarterfinal finishers will be 6-3 St. Hubert, 5-3 Little Flower and 5-4 Archbishop Carroll.
In boys’ lacrosse, St. Joseph’s Prep hosted La Salle on April 25 in a showdown between a pair of first-place teams. Before it was over, the visiting Explorers had emptied their bench.
Led by senior Shane Osborne’s four goals, the defending champion Explorers defeated the overwhelmed Hawks, 10-1. Senior goalie Christian Suter made eight saves; senior John Giuliani dominated the faceoff circle.
Coach Bill Leahy accomplished his 500th career win.
“Winning by nine goals is nice, especially against our rival,” said injured senior Brett Mallee. “However, we have been on the other side of that margin, so we will stay focused and continue to get better. It was awesome to get a clean win for Coach Leahy’s 500th career win.”
La Salle senior Kurt Wessner concurred.
“It was a very big game for the whole team for several different reasons,” said Wessner. “First of all, it is a big rivalry game for us and a must win in the PCL. Also, it was Coach Leahy’s 500th win. We dominated all aspects of the game, which really enabled us to take control of the pace of the game and force them to play how we like to play.
“It was extremely important to the seniors and the whole team. We knew going in that we had the ability to have such a dominant victory, so it was very important to go out and prove to ourselves what we can do as a team.”
Leahy admitted that reaching the half-millennium against a league rival made the moment a tad more satisfying.
That said, it arguably pales in comparison to his other accomplishments at La Salle, where he began the program in 1992 and over the past 27 seasons has captured 23 Catholic League crowns, four state championships and four losses in the state final. The Catholic League has competed for PIAA state crowns for the past 16 seasons.
“There are a number of factors,” said Leahy, who also serves the school as a guidance counselor. “The administration is exceptionally supportive. It’s a great school; a great place to be.
“We have fine young men who are also terrific students. Plus, we have a great supporting staff of coaches. Put it all together and you’ll get some good years.”
“Coach Leahy is very passionate about everything he does and we are very grateful for all of the sacrifices he makes for us,” said Osborne. “He has built an amazing program, and has made a great impact on so many young men. We have learned so many important life lessons from Coach, and I will be forever grateful to have played for such a great coach and even better person.”
In girls’ lacrosse, Archbishop Carroll is vying for its 19th consecutive league title. At 7-0, the Patriots are well on their way. This year they have some company, as Cardinal O’Hara is a half game ahead of them at 8-0.
Ironically, both teams have outscored their opposition by a 128 to 21 margin, albeit one less game played by Carroll. The two squads will meet to decide the regular-season title at Carroll on May 7.
“We know that it isn’t going to be an easy ride,” said Carroll senior Liza Dellarate. “We have been working hard all season and are not taking any team lightly. We are looking forward to playing O’Hara and we know it’s going to be a battle, so we need to come and be ready to play.”
Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com and on Twitter @johnknebels.
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