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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

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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.” ••

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