Over the past two seasons, Tamaqua has really struggled against Colonial League teams.
Yesterday afternoon, the Lady Raiders reversed their fortunes with a little bit of "small ball," in addition to some great defense and a timely hit off the bat of Jordan Nowacki, en route to a 4-1 nonleague victory over Northwestern.
The win improves Tamaqua to 8-6 on the year and snaps an 0-5 skid against Colonial League foes dating back to the beginning of last season.
After losing four games in a row, the Lady Raiders have now won four of their last five contests, which has head coach Jillian Barron brimming with confidence.
"It's been a tough spring weather-wise, but I think the girls are really starting to mesh together and I'm hoping that we're starting to hit our peak for the rest of the season. Both mentally and physically, they're showing all the signs of a true team."
After snapping a four-game losing streak of their own on Monday afternoon against Northern Lehigh, Northwestern (6-9) looked to carry that momentum over when Tori Papp blasted her first home run of the season, a solo shot over the center field fence in the top of the second inning, to give Northwestern a 1-0 lead.
However, Tamaqua gained back the advantage in the ensuing inning.
Chey Bates reached on a throwing error to lead off the third frame and Lauren Mateyak's bunt single and a sacrifice bunt by Allie Sotak put runners on first and third with one out. Jordan Nowacki then stepped to the plate and unleashed a two-run triple to center field to score Bates and Mateyak. An errant Northwestern throw on the play allowed Nowacki to scamper home for a 3-1 Raiders lead.
"Jordan really came through for us there at a time in the game where we really needed a big hit," stated Barron. "She did her job and I couldn't be any more proud of her."
Tamaqua then tacked on an insurance run in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 4-1. Northwestern committed three straight infield errors to lead off the fourth frame. Then with the bases loaded, Chey Bates plated her younger sister (Krissy Bates) with an RBI-groundout.
All four Tamaqua runs were preceded with Northwestern errors, which was none too pleasing to Tigers head coach Jen Horner.
"In our last three games, I thought we did a good job of playing fundamental softball," said Horner. "However, (with five errors) that obviously didn't carry over to today."
"We lacked any type of consistency and it seemed like we were just going through the motions out there. We have to find a way to bounce back and with the season winding down, we need to do it quickly."
The Lady Tigers did get on base with five hits, two walks and a hit batter; however, pitcher Allie Sotak and Tamaqua's defense ended up stranding seven of the eight Tigers to reach base.
Tamaqua forced 11 ground outs and turned two impressive-looking double plays, both of which occurred with nobody out in the second and sixth innings respectively.
Four of Tamaqua's six hits were bunt singles (three by leadoff hitter Lauren Mateyak), while the Lady Raiders also added four sacrifice bunts.
Tamaqua stranded eight base runners on the afternoon, while Sotak struck out four to pick up the victory.
Northwestern 010 000 0 - 1 5 5
Tamaqua 003 100 x - 4 6 2
T. Papp and Williams; Sotak and Zancofsky. W - Sotak. L - T. Papp. HR: Northwestern - T. Papp (2nd, none on).