A perfect pair

Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s Heath­er For­ward com­petes in the PI­AA Dis­trict 12 State Play­offs at Temple’s Am­bler cam­pus. Kev­in Cook/for the Times

Look out for those Rag­dolls in the out­field. 

Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School left­field­er Megan Wolf and center­field­er Heath­er For­ward have be­come some­what of a dy­nam­ic duo this sea­son. 

They helped the Rag­dolls go 18-6 over­all, in­clud­ing a trip deep in­to the Cath­ol­ic League play­offs, qual­i­fic­a­tion for the state play­offs and a Dis­trict 12 cham­pi­on­ship title. 

“They have both been com­ing up big this sea­son,” said Ry­an head coach Andy Hafele. “All of the girls have been do­ing a really great job.”

Arch­bish­op Ry­an fin­ished 9-2 in league play, good enough to claim the second seed in their di­vi­sion and, as a res­ult, qual­i­fy for the state play­offs.

They rolled in­to the Cath­ol­ic League play­offs with dreams of cham­pi­on­ship glory, but the Rag­dolls were shocked back to real­ity by St. Hubert in the semi­finals on May 24. 

“I think it was a good sea­son. It was ter­rible that it had to end the way it did, but I’m glad that we’re in states,” said For­ward, the Rag­dolls’ cleanup hit­ter, who had a .455 bat­ting av­er­age this sea­son. “We talked about that in the be­gin­ning of the sea­son. Get­ting to the states was def­in­itely a big goal for us.”

Des­pite their de­par­ture from league play­offs, the Reg­dolls’ stel­lar re­cord did qual­i­fy them to face North­east High School in the Dis­trict 12 cham­pi­on­ship game on June 1. The Rag­dolls won and claimed the crown — without even one hit.

You see, all Arch­bish­op Ry­an had to do was show up. North­east was forced to for­feit be­cause the play­ers lost their bus ride to the game. Then, when the game was res­ched­uled, North­east’s coach learned that a good num­ber of his play­ers would be no-shows.

“The bus that was sup­posed to take us there showed up, but then the school dis­trict closed early, so the bus had to make its runs,” ex­plained North­east coach Den­nis En­gle­man, re­fer­ring the school’s early dis­missal on June 1 be­cause of severe weath­er con­di­tions and a heat ad­vis­ory. “Then it was res­ched­uled the fol­low­ing day, but nine of my girls were go­ing to the prom, and they chose the prom over the game.”

By for­feit­ing the big show­down, the Vik­ings sac­ri­ficed pos­sibly win­ning the Dis­trict 12 cham­pi­on­ship title and settled in­stead for the second seed in the state play­offs.

They played Penns­bury on Monday, los­ing 12-2. 

“We were dis­trict cham­pi­ons, so of course we were ex­cited about it, but we wanted to play and win,” Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s For­ward said of last week’s for­feit. 

The Rag­dolls got their chance soon enough, fa­cing New Ox­ford in the first round of the State Class AAAA Tour­na­ment game at Temple Uni­versity’s Am­bler Cam­pus on Monday.  

Des­pite re­cord­ing four hits, in­clud­ing a double from For­ward, Arch­bish­op Ry­an lost, 4-1, bring­ing their sea­son to a close. 

“It’s ex­cit­ing even to get to this point,” said Megan Wolf. “This is the first time Ry­an has ever been in states. I’m really happy I’m a part of the team. It’s a good thing for Ry­an. 

“I think the sea­son was very suc­cess­ful,” she ad­ded. “We played really well. We came to­geth­er really well as a group.”

Wolf and For­ward have been play­ing side by side throughout their high school soft­ball ca­reers. As three-year varsity play­ers, they have helped guide the Rag­dolls to post-sea­son play throughout that time. 

“She’s in a lot of my classes in school,” For­ward said of Wolf. “We talk a lot in the out­field. We’ve been to­geth­er since the be­gin­ning. All of us hang out on week­ends, too, which I think makes us a stronger team on the field.”

Wolf and For­ward had vastly dif­fer­ent re­sumes be­fore their ar­rival at Ry­an. For­ward, a lifelong com­pet­it­or on the dia­mond, has teamed with the Phil­adelphia Spir­it tour­na­ment fast-pitch team for the past sev­en years. Cur­rently on the 18U elite team, she has helped guide her Spir­it squad to the na­tion­al cham­pi­on­ship tour­na­ment every year. 

“I pretty much play year round,” ex­plained For­ward, 16. “It con­sumes your life. All you do is play soft­ball, but it’s fun, be­cause you have more friends.”

Wolf, on the oth­er hand, also is a lifelong com­pet­it­or, but her ex­pert­ise has been on the bas­ket­ball court. In ad­di­tion to soft­ball, she is a three-year varsity play­er for the Arch­bish­op Ry­an bas­ket­ball team, and she also plays for the North­east Rock­ers AAU bas­ket­ball squad. 

“I like it a lot. I hate down­time,” said Wolf. “Play­ing two sports keeps me busy. I hate com­ing home after school and hav­ing noth­ing to do. I like be­ing busy.” 

More than any­thing, For­ward and Wolf en­joy the team ca­marader­ie at Ry­an. 

“The friends you make is the best part,” said For­ward. “You spend so much time with them, between prac­tices, games, school and just hanging out. It’s more than just a team. It’s like a fam­ily.” ••

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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