Abby Marmen of PA Chaos squares up at bat in Saturday’s game against Finch’s Aces 14U Gallo.
By Will Harrigan
Getting a chance to play against one of softball’s all-time great players in the dugout is something that made Abby Marmen of PA Chaos admittedly nervous.
No one would ever have known that if she was judged by her play.
Marmen’s two-run double in the second inning proved to be the big catalyst for the Chaos 14Us, as the Philadelphia suburbs-based team notched a 6-4 victory over Finch’s Aces 14U Gallo squad in the Jennie Finch Spring Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation. The game was the tournament opener for both sides.
“I was sitting on a fastball, and I got exactly what I wanted. I was able to make good contact on it and I am so happy we won,” Marmen said. “It was so cool getting to play with (Jennie Finch) there. I was shaking in the handshake line!”
Finch – the legendary two-time Olympic gold medalist whose name is proudly etched on the jerseys of the Aces squad – was on hand and coached with the Aces squad throughout.
After running a clinic on Friday night, she was on hand at Diamond Nation all day on Saturday, helping coach the Aces and graciously signing autographs for hundreds of fans.
“It’s always so much fun coming out here to Diamond Nation,” Finch said. “The atmosphere here is great, and to see so many girls out here having a great time is a special thing. To have so many teams from so many different areas participating is a great sign of the direction our sport is heading.”
Leah Clandaniel led off the game with a walk for the Chaos. Georgie Mariani would reach on an infield single two batters later, setting up Marmen’s shot that put her team ahead 2-0.
The Chaos would add a run in the second, when Ava Nevius’ singled to center and then the Chaos cashed in on a double off the bat of Danielle Sweigart. The run support was plenty early-on for Chaos pitcher Mandi Redmiles, who put up three consecutive zeros to start the game.
Finch’s Aces Gallo finally got its breakthrough in the home half of the fourth, when Abby Moschberger singled home Hannah Belluche, who had doubled earlier in the inning to cut the deficit to 3-1.
But the potent PA Chaos offense struck right back, with the big blow coming off the bat of Payton Feeney. With two runners on, Feeney launched a triple into the right center field gap to extend the lead to 5-1. Savannah Claycomb’s ensuing fly ball to right field was deep enough to drive home Feeney, giving the Chaos a 6-1 edge.
Finch’s Aces had one more big rally in them in the fifth. Jess Yip, the Aces’ shortstop and three-hitter, came through with a clutch two-RBI double to trim the deficit to 6-4. A batter earlier, Aces pitcher Charlotte Konta singled in a run.
Olivia Miller and Sammi Kalinak walked and singled, respectively, to reach base and score during the rally.
Later in the day, Finch’s Aces Gallo would go on to lose a 4-3 heartbreaker to Toms River Lightning, while PA Chaos would drop a 9-8 thriller to East Coast Tsunami and an 11-0 decision to Empire State Huskies ’07.
For Finch, the enthusiasm and quality of play is something she sees as a good sign for softball going forward.
“Softball is going to continue to grow in the Northeast, and it’s really a blast to see,” said Finch. “Girls in the region now have more opportunities to play with turf fields, including here, which will allow more time to play.”