Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Girls reach semifinals

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

The Whitehall softball team is heading to Pates Park, defeating Nazareth in Tuesday’s second round of the District XI 6A softball playoffs, setting up another meeting against Northampton for a chance to play for a title.

They defeated the Blue Eagles 7-6 at Nazareth Intermediate School, overcoming a five-run deficit to get into the semifinals. The game is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Head coach Blake Morgan said that the best compliment he can give his team after that victory is “the fact that they kept on fighting.”

He also reasserted his belief that a team must seize the momentum, and that’s what he’s been telling his young team all year. How do you get it? How do you keep it? And how do you get it back once it’s lost? He said getting to understand that is crucial.

That message came in handy on Tuesday because it didn’t look promising in the beginning of the game as they trailed 5-0 after two innings.

But Meghan Hutter’s homer in the third took some of the sting out of that deficit, but it may have been a defensive play that helped them seize the momentum and turn their fortunes around.

Morgan said that Nazareth was on the verge of really putting the game away when Abby Vivian made an over-the-shoulder catch that killed their rally and set the stage for their comeback. He said it was one of those moments where a play took the momentum from Nazareth and placed it firmly back in their grip.

They scored six runs from that point, taking the lead in the sixth after a Mackenzie Laub RBI double, followed by a Madison Cunningham single. Cunningham later scored the winning run on an error.

Morgan said that everyone played a role in the win. That common goal was the theme that afternoon.

“Do something positive for your team and keep building off that, and they did that,” said Morgan.

Cunningham and Abigail Reese both worked in the circle, with Reese getting the win. Both pitchers didn’t allow a walk, and that was a big factor since Nazareth had more hits than the Zephs.

In Monday’s game, it was some opposite field hitting that fueled their win over Pleasant Valley in the opening round of the District 11 6A softball tourney.

After the Bears took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, Whitehall answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Rachel Arner started things with a walk, and that was followed by the first of their opposite field production as Lindsey Gawrys poked a ball right inside the right field foul line for a triple, scoring Arner.

The next batter was Laub, another right-handed hitter like Gawyrs, and her blast the opposite way glanced off the right fielder’s glove for another triple. Those two opposite field hits gave them the 2-1 lead.

The Zephyrs tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth as Reese was safe on a bunt. A sacrifice bunt got her into scoring position, and then came another opposite field RBI as Sara Leiby hit a blooper just beyond the reach of the first baseman for the 3-1 advantage.

Pleasant Valley cut the led back to a run in the top of the fifth, but Whitehall’s response in their half of the inning was another clinic in using the opposite field. Once again Gawrys took a pitch the other way, allowing Arner to reach third on the hit. Arner came around to score on the sacrifice fly by Laub. Later that inning they added another run when a throw got away on a bunt, plating Gawrys.

The Zephs now led 5-2 thanks to their ability to go the other way with a pitch.

They expanded that lead in the bottom of the sixth, scoring six runs to put the game out reach.

Starting pitcher Cunningham went the distance for the win, recording four strikeouts over seven innings.