The seventh annual Softball Carpenter Cup Classic took place last Monday through Thursday at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in South Philadelphia. The 15 participating teams are similar to all-star teams — the purpose of the double-elimination tournament is to give the best high school players in the tri-state area the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of college scouts.
At field No. 5, Philadelphia’s finest Public League players took on the best players from Berks County, who traveled nearly 70 miles to play and did not disappoint. They dismantled Philly Public in an ugly 17-0 trouncing on June 21.
Jessica Figueroa, who’ll be a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School, took the hill for Philadelphia Public and found herself in trouble early. After walking the first batter and getting the second to ground out to second base, Figueroa surrendered a single and a triple, putting Philly Public in an early 2-0 hole.
In the bottom of the first inning, Berks County pitcher Courtney Allen gave a preview of the entire game. After Philadelphia Public’s leadoff hitter, Alyssa Foronda, reached base on an error, Allen struck out the next two batters and got cleanup hitter Tyanna Hudson, who will be a senior at Frankford High School, to fly out. The majority of Philadelphia Public’s base runners reached on walks and errors, and no more than four batters went to the plate in an inning.
The second inning got worse for Philly as Berks’ first two batters reached on consecutive errors and advanced with a balk. After three errors, a walk, a balk and a single, Philadelphia Public was down 6-0 after two innings.
Berks tacked on three more runs in the third and five more in the fifth to put the game out of reach. Down 14-0 in the sixth inning, Figueroa was pulled and replaced by Franklin Towne Charter’s Jess Peoples, who surrendered three more runs.
“I don’t want to say we beat ourselves, because that would take away from what Berks did, but we had a very limited amount of time to get together our team and very limited time to practice,” said Philadelphia Public coach Megan Condit after the loss. “Weather and field space really affected our practice lately. We never even had a full team practice.”
Errors proved the most detrimental element for the Public League, which committed seven errors, six of which Berks converted to runs.
“This is our second year playing in the tournament,” explained Condit, who also coaches at the Austin Meehan Middle School. “We’re just going to keep playing and be ready for next year’s tournament.”
For Figueroa, the final score was something she saw a lot during her high school team’s season, but from the winning perspective. Lincoln went 10-3 and finished third in the league standings before losing to Northeast High School in the first round of the playoffs. The Railsplitters were an offensive machine, producing an average of 13 runs per game and posting two shutouts.
“It was tough at the beginning,” Figueroa said of the unfamiliarity of Berks’ batters. “This was definitely the worst loss I’ve experienced since playing in high school because there is no mercy rule. But I learned to play through it and keep my head up.”
The Philadelphia Public League mercy rule calls for forfeiture of a game if a team leads by 15 runs after three innings or 10 runs after five innings. That rule does not apply to the Carpenter Cup Classic.
The loss was somewhat of a familiar setting for Tyanna Hudson, who endured a very tough year with Frankford High School. The Pioneers won just three games, surrendering an average of 14 runs per game. They also were outscored by an average of 10 runs per game.
“This was really rough,” said Hudson, who primarily plays third base. “I’m used to losing by like eight runs, not sixteen or seventeen. We just made too many mistakes and kept dropping the ball. They were hitting the ball really well and capitalizing on our mistakes.”
Berks hit the ball extremely well, getting at least two hits an inning, not to mention their batters who reached base on walks and errors.
Philadelphia Public performed well in the second of its two games on June 21, yet still loss, this time to Inter-Ac, 3-1. Berks was eliminated from the tournament the following day after four games.
Philadelphia Public was not alone in its lopsided loss; Tuesday’s bracket showcased just three games where the win margin was less than five runs.
Just four girls on this year’s Philly Public roster are eligible to return to the tournament next year. The other players have graduated.
“Next year I hope to start practicing early and win some games,” said Condit. ••
Reporter Dave Nescio can be reached at Dave.Nescio@gmail.com