Some players need some seasoning before they come up to the varsity squad.
Courtney Sherwood isn’t one of those players.
Sherwood is a junior on the Little Flower High School softball team, a job she grabbed when she first entered the school as a freshman.
She did have a slight advantage.
Her sister, Tori, graduated in 2016, and was a star first baseman and centerfielder during her days as a Sentinel, so the younger Sherwood just mimicked what her sister did during her high school days.
“I watched her and how she played, so I knew what it was going to be like,” said Sherwood, a Fox Chase resident. “I played a different position, but I learned just by watching how she would play and how she would get ready. I learned a lot by being around the team.”
Sherwood was a spectator.
Now she’s a leader.
And the Sentinels are enjoying a solid season in Catholic League play.
Playing in an extremely competitive division, Little Flower finished 7-5 on the season, which puts the Sentinels in fifth place heading into the playoffs.
Now they play a familiar foe in Archbishop Ryan, the defending Catholic League champions.
The Ragdolls have been one of the better teams in the PCL this year, but they did fall to Little Flower 10-7 on the last day of April.
Ryan has been one of the best teams in the Catholic League, winning four of the last five Catholic League championships, so the Ragdolls will be ready for the playoffs, which begin Wednesday.
But Sherwood is confident in her team heading into the postseason.
“I think it’s going to be a great game because we love playing Ryan,” Sherwood said. “We play them tough. They’re really good. I think by us beating them this year, it gives us confidence that we can beat them or really beat anyone. But they’re a really good team. They won it last year and they’re good again this year.
“This year has been good because we have so much confidence. We really meshed well as a team, the infield and the outfield. We’ve played really well together as a team.”
The entire team has done their part, but Sherwood has certainly been the catalyst of the success.
Sherwood is hitting .550 with seven home runs, including three long balls to put the Sentinels ahead. And each of her homers have come against Catholic League opponents.
She’s also proven to be one of the top gloves in the Catholic League.
“I think this is a good year, it started during the summer when I was playing for my club team (the Philadelphia Spirit),” Sherwood said. “Then it’s been going pretty well this year. I’m hitting better than ever. A lot has to do with confidence. But it helps to have a great team.”
Her numbers are impressive, but she’s quick to point out her teammates have a lot to do with her success.
Sure, when you hit better than .500 with power, you’re unlikely to see a lot of hittable pitches, but it’s tough to walk Sherwood, too, because the Sentinels have some solid hitters around her.
“Some coaches try to throw me stuff I can’t hit, but I look for good pitches,” Sherwood said. “I like the challenge. There are good pitchers in the league, and some still come after me. It really depends. But they can’t do it too much because that puts (her) on base and the next person will get a big hit.”
This has been a solid year for Little Flower and while the team has to open on the road against a tough team in the playoffs, Sherwood and her mates are confident.
And Sherwood is also optimistic about the future of the program.
While Little Flower does have five seniors on its roster, only two of them are starters. While all have played a huge role in this year’s success, the bulk of the squad will return next year.
Sherwood isn’t looking ahead, she still wants to see what this team can do, but she is optimistic that next year could be a very special one.
“I think this year has made us all better and closer,” said Sherwood, who also stars on the Little Flower field hockey team. “If we all come back and keep working, we could be one of the teams to beat next year. We could be really good.”
But she’s not waiting.
She wants to win this year for her senior teammates and for Little Flower.
“Everyone is excited,” Sherwood said. “I think it would be great for everyone at the school if we won. Everyone is happy we’re doing well, and it would be good for the school if we won.”