In centerfield, former Penn Charter player Katie Brock (’11) gloves a fly ball for the Roxborough Fillies. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

School’s out, but that doesn’t mean the end of softball action for a group of current and former players from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Penn Charter. Together, they make up almost half of the team roster for the Roxborough Fillies, a 21st Ward fast-pitch travel team.

Recently embarking on a summer schedule that consists largely of tournaments sanctioned by the USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association), the Fillies finished second at the June Hustle tourney in Quakertown two weekends ago. They did not fare as well at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School last Saturday and Sunday, emerging from the Battle on the Hill with a record of 0-3-1.

The SCH players in the line-up are rising junior Michelle Cybularz, and recent graduates Alexis Giovinazzo and Aly Markey, who just received their walking papers at last Wednesday’s graduation ceremony. Giovinazzo will be playing for Muhlenberg College, and Markey will continue her career at Albright College.

One of Penn Charter’s Fillies, Mackenzie Kramer, has just finished her freshman year at Muhlenberg, and her former classmate Katie Brock is attending Duke University. The other PC athletes on the team are rising juniors Jess Drossner and Molly Mornhinweg.

SCH standout Giovinazzo, who was a five-year varsity player for the Lions, plans to make good use of the summer competition as she prepares to ascend to the collegiate level.

“It’s going to be a different game,” she pointed out, “so you just want to keep playing to stay in shape and get ready for college ball.”

Breaking down the aspects of her game, she noted, “I want to hit line drives consistently. I’ve been getting under the ball too much, so I’m focusing on staying on top of it and hitting solid drives. I’ve been fielding pretty well, so I’m just trying to stay sharp and keep everyone together on the field.”

In the tourney at Quakertown on June 9-10, the Fillies swept the three games in their team pool on Saturday, winning the closest of these contests by five runs. Four more games (including one 11-inning affair) would follow on the second day of the uncomfortably hot weekend.

The Fillies opened up with a 4-3 win over the Lehigh Valley Thunder, then topped Elite, 8-2. A 3-1 victory against the Montgomery County Shock put the team in the finals, where they succumbed to a Bucks County Club, Blue Thunder Premier, 8-0.

After a week that included Springside Chestnut Hill’s graduation and accompanying celebrations, the Fillies participated in the tournament at P-W last weekend. They were playing without Markey, Mornhinweg, and other team members, and they had trouble producing at the plate, scoring a total of seven runs in four games.

Three of those runs came in a tie game at the start of their Saturday agenda. After that deadlock with a Maryland team called the Angels (games had to be completed in a timely manner due to the packed schedule), the Fillies fell to the Hillsborough (NJ) Hustle, 4-2, and the Doylestown Dragons, 9-2. In the team’s final go-round on Sunday morning, they were blanked, 4-0, by the Odyssey, a local outfit based right in Plymouth Meeting.

“It wasn’t working this weekend,” Giovinazzo commented. “None of us were really ‘on,’ and we were also missing a couple players. We did so well the weekend before that I think everyone was a little complacent.”

Although the Fillies were unable to score in the final outing at the Battle on the Hill, Giovinazzo played well at shortstop, leaping both vertically and horizontally to make a pair of impressive grabs in the field, and hitting a double down the left field line.

She’s also engaging in off-the-field training to prepare for the step up to college softball.

“I’m working at the fitness center at school (SCH) this summer, so I’m going to be lifting every day and doing conditioning,” she explained.

Giovinazzo said that Muhlenberg coach Marisa DiStasio has been very encouraging.

“The shortstop position’s open, so she said if everything goes according to plan that I’ll be starting there.”