Softball edges Emmaus 1-0
Good pitching, strong defense and timely hitting will take a team a long way, and the Whitehall softball team exhibited all three in their win versus Emmaus on Tuesday.
The timely hitting came early as hot hitting Meghan Hutter laced a single to center in the bottom of the first inning to reach base with one out. She stole second, but once Emmaus starting pitcher Hannah Palinkas, an EPC second team all-star last season, struck out Casey Cunningham for the second out, the Hornet hurler seemed poised to wriggle out of the jam.
But Logan Bortz was about to change all that when she stepped to the plate, sending a rocket down the left field line that scored Hutter. That hit proved to be the winning run as the Zephyrs held on for the 1-0 win over their Eastern Pennsylvania Conference foes.
Once Bortz settled into the box, she knew she had to capitalize on the opportunity.
“I got up to the plate, I’ve been struggling lately, and knew I had to do a job,” said Bortz. “I had a runner on second and I knew how to get her in. I knew it was going to be a tough game, and I got her in.”
Bortz has faced Palinkas in the past, and she knows how dominant the Hornet can be on the mound. She said her experience against Palinkas allowed her to be more confident this time.
“I just went up there knowing what I had to do,” said Bortz.
It proved to be a very tough game with lots of runners left on base for both squads. Emmaus was getting runners on base every inning, but Zephyr pitcher Madison Cunningham refused to get rattled and worked out of each jam, thanks in part to some stellar defensive play.
“She just keeps competing, and that’s all we can ask of her,” said head coach Blake Morgan. “Of course she’s a young freshman, and we have to make defensive plays behind her, but to her credit, she just throws the next pitch. And that’s all she cares about.”
In the top of the sixth, Emmaus got their first two runners on base. After a Cunningham K, the next batter popped, but a two-out screamer to center looked to be a surefire RBI. But center fielder Abigail Reese quickly stopped up the ball and fired a strike to catcher Anastasiaia Yocum who applied the tag to end the inning.
Morgan said that his defense has been working hard since the beginning of the school year.
“We talked about making the routine plays, and that keeps the lid on things, keeping you out of big innings,” said Morgan. “And the spectacular plays, they’ll take care of themselves.”
Many of those defensive plays could fit into the spectacular category, including shortstop Samantha Molitoris’ play in the top of the fifth on a little hump back liner that dropped just past the pitcher’s circle. With runners on second and third, she deftly made the pick up and got the ball to Cunningham in time for the out. But it was her stab of a screeching liner that she turned into a double play in the top of the fifth that was one for the highlight reel.
Also making that reel was Reese who had to run down a sinking line drive to her right in the top of the seventh with a runner on first. Reese made the running catch that took the air out of Emmaus’ comeback bid.
Morgan said that it was a great team win over a team that’s very good that’s full of tough competitors. He said that it demonstrates if a team hangs around long enough, it gives them a chance to do something.
The Zephs are now 6-2 on the season, and Bortz knows that their success has stemmed from being good defensively. It was clearly evident against the Hornets.
“We’ve been working so hard with different plays and different situations,” said Bortz. “It finally paid off.”