No. Lehigh-Calvary Christian softball
ORWIGSBURG – Somehow, someway, an extraordinary band of softball players from Northern Lehigh found a way to do the improbable.
A team that won just seven games during the regular season and was in most observers’ opinion a decided underdog when action began at 11 a.m. Friday at James Patton Softball Field, pulled off a pair of dramatic victories.
The Bulldogs’ big day started with an a scintillating 2-1 District 11 Class 2A championship game win over Schuylkill Haven. Then, after a 45-minute break, they returned to the field and pulled out another incredible win, rallying from a huge deficit to defeat District 1 champ Calvary Christian, 8-6, in a PIAA State Tournament play-in game.
Not long ago, most people would have said there were better odds of a snowball fight on this sunny, hot day than Northern Lehigh winning a district title and a state playoff game in the span of a few hours. But that’s exactly what the Bulldogs did.
“It’s called Bulldogs softball,” said Northern Lehigh coach Kate Farber moments after the come-from-behind victory over Calvery Christian, which propels her team into next week’s PIAA 2A state tournament.
“No one should doubt these kids,” added Farber. “I mean we played some tough games in our league, we played against some very good players, but we have players up and down our lineup that can also produce.”
That showed in the middle innings.
After Calvary Christian knocked out starting pitcher Alicia Horn during a six-run second inning, the Bulldogs were not rolling over. They responded with a two-run rally in the third, two more in the fourth, and then a four-run fifth.
The first rally featured a single by Brianna Hess, an RBI double from Lauren Hoffman, and an RBI single by Brianna Schuck.
In the fourth, Halie Krasenic’s double, singles from Alley Handwerk and Hess, and a Shyanna Williams ground out produced the runs
Still trailing 6-4 entering the fifth, Northern Lehigh sent nine batters to the plate to take the lead. A Hoffman single, an error, and an RBI single by Krasenics pulled NL to within a run. Handwerk then delivered the game’s biggest hit — a two-run triple that gave the Bulldogs the lead. A ground out eventually added an insurance run.
While the Bulldogs were rallying offensively, freshman pitcher Kendall Heiney, who was summoned to relieve Horn in the second inning, was keeping the Cougar bats silent.
“In the beginning of the year we tried to use Alicia and Kendall as a one-two-punch,” Farber said. “Kendall kind of took a back seat … but in this situation — with us down early and Alicia having thrown a lot of pitches in the first game — we decided to go to her. She was so poised. We just asked her to settle in, throw strikes and let the defense make plays.”
Heiney entered with one out in the second inning. She was charged with allowing two of Calvary’s six runs in the frame, but then held the Cougars scoreless over the next five innings.
“They come off that (earlier) win and they seemed to have the answers at the right time,” said Calvary coach Cindy Caracappa. “We were emotionally up at the start. But they had a lot of hitters that came up big in the clutch.”
NEXT UP ... The Bulldogs will be right back in action on Monday when they face the District 12 runner-up at 2 p.m. at Pates Park in Allentown.
DELAY … Rain, rain. It took two days and what amounted to a 43 hour rain delay to coronate the newest District 11 Class 2A softball champion.
KNOCKING IT AROUND … Northern Lehigh clubbed out 16 hits in the victory, getting a terrific day from Hoffman who slapped out a double, a triple and two singles. Krasenics added a triple and two singles; Hess had three singles; Katie Yesik singled twice, and Williams and Shuck each had one hit.
STRONG START … Calvary Christian (12-7) came out smoking, getting six of its nine hits in the first two innings. Leading the team with three singles were Bekam Leonard with three hits and Victory Rodway with two.
No. Lehigh 002 240 0 - 8 16 0
Calvary C. 150 000 0 - 6 9 1
Horn, Heiney (2) and Schuck; Stauffer and Leonard. W - Heiney. L - Stauffer.
No. Lehigh-Sch. Haven
Northern Lehigh captured its first District 11 championship since 2001 with a 2-1 victory over Schuylkill Haven on Friday at Blue Mountain High School.
The Class 2A title game, which was suspended by storms in the fourth inning on Wednesday, was scoreless through nine innings.
But in the top of the 10th inning, Northern Lehigh got RBI singles from Lauren Hoffman and Julia Wannamaker to take a 2-0 lead.
Bulldog pitcher Alicia Horn was then able to close it out in the bottom of the frame, striking out the final two batters with the tying and winning runs on base.
Horn — who finished with 20 strikeouts, 11 walks, and three hit batsman — stranded 17 runners in the game.
Northern Lehigh had just four hits. In addition to Hoffman and Wannamaker, Shyanna Williams and Halie Krasenics both added singles.
Schuylkill Haven (12-10) had five hits, three of them off the bat of Abby Mills.
No. Lehigh 000 000 000 2 - 2 4 0
Sch. Haven 000 000 000 1 - 1 5 0
Horn and Schock; Yeager and Johnson. W-Horn. L- Yeager.