In stepped freshman Liv Campbell.
DeCew admits she was worried in the preseason about who would be catching her. The uncertainty lingered through open gym sessions, when the focus was not on pitching. But during the first real practices, the senior was impressed with Campbell, and the two have developed quite a rapport.
"We really get each other," DeCew said. "I have all the confidence in the world in her. I think she has definitely stepped up and is doing a great job."
DeCew (9-3) has gotten a decision on the mound in all but one game this season, taking a break from the circle against Central Bucks West a couple of weeks ago. In those 12 games she has thrown five shutouts, striking out double-digit batters on four occasions. Against Christopher Dock, she struck out 15, and in an important league matchup with North Penn, DeCew gave up just two hits.
"Paige is our ace. How Paige goes, we go," Pennridge coach Paul Koehler said. "Not only does she do an outstanding job in the circle, she leads us in hitting. . . . Offensively, she sets the table for us, too.
"Paige knows what it requires to be successful. Paige knows what she needs to do. She's on a mission to accomplish that."
Part of that mission was to be the best pitcher in the Suburban One League's Continental Conference, another was to finally beat Central Bucks South.
Behind DeCew, the Rams (10-3 overall, 6-3 Continental) have swept the Titans this season; they are in a tie for second place in the division.
"We were really motivated," DeCew said, adding that it was the first win against South in her four years as a Ram. "It was an extra push. By beating them, it really gave us the confidence to go forward after all of our losses."
On Tuesday, the Rams will face off with Hatboro-Horsham, which beat the Rams in 10 innings in their last meeting.
The Inquirer TOP 10
Records through Saturday.
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. Neshaminy (1) 11-1
2. Pennsbury (2) 11-2
3 Hat.-Horsham (8) 11-1
4. C.B. East (5) 10-3
5. Conwell-Egan (3) 11-4
6. Pennridge (10) 10-3
7. C.B. South (4) 9-5
8. Nazareth Acad. (7) 10-1
9. St. Hubert (6) 9-2
10. Haverford (9) 10-2
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): North Penn (8-4), West Chester Henderson (11-0).
- Kate Harman