ALLENTOWN – The recipe for Northern Lehigh was sweet.
You take a dash of good pitching, a pinch of clutch hitting, wrapped up with some solid defense and the result is a winner.
Northern Lehigh's 3-1 win over Southern Lehigh propels the Lady Bulldogs into the Colonial League Championship tonight against Palisades at Pate's Park.
Julie Wagaman paced the effort with seven strikeouts and issued only one walk, but the game started with a very different twist. The Spartans, who beat Northern Lehigh 2-0 in the regular season jumped out to an early lead.
Eleni Dimou pounded the ball over left fielder Jocelyn Rodriguez for a lead-off triple. She scored on Corinne Ozanne's sacrifice fly to right. That would be all for the Spartans.
"We let that first run in but I settled down there a bit," Wagaman said. "I talked to my catcher (Erica Bowman) a little bit, we figured out what went wrong. We changed it and kept it constant throughout the game."
Wagaman retired 12 of the next 13 batters to shut the Spartans out for the rest of the game. While she pitched strikes, the Spartans hit and the Lady Bulldogs fielded the game without an error.
"My defense – they are always spectacular," Wagaman said. "When I am on the mound I trust them, which makes it a lot easier to pitch."
"We work very hard on our defense and today (it showed)," Northern Lehigh head coach Brian Schell said.
The opposite was true for the Spartans (14-7). They committed four errors that led to two Bulldog runs.
Rodriguez tied the game with an RBI single to drive in Kristi Seiler, who had doubled to lead off the second inning.
Jen Bet reached on an error to lead off the third. An error was committed that extended the life of the inning and a fielder's choice by Kristi Seiler scored Bet.
Kayla Toth singled to start the fifth. Two batters later the Spartans tried to turn the double play but the throw to first was in the dirt allowing Toth to score.
Southern Lehigh threatened in the sixth inning by loading the bases with one out.
After a meeting on the mound, Wagaman struck out clean-up hitter Katie Tankred and forced Holland to ground to short to end the threat.
"She's a veteran pitcher, and that is what a veteran pitcher does," Schnell said. "She works out of it. Her calmness on the mound calmed the whole team down."
Northern Lehigh (15-6) is, according to Schell, a hungry team, eager to improve its post-season efforts.
"These girls made it to league playoffs (last season) and lost in the first round," Schell said. "They are hungry. They want to go where they haven't been. They want to go the next level."
No. Lehigh 011 010 0 – 3 5 0
So. Lehigh 100 000 0 – 1 5 4
Wagaman and Bowman; Tankred and Wilson.