"We Are Young," were the words echoed by Tamaqua head coach Jill Barron as she stood in the outfield reminiscing about yesterday afternoon's Schuylkill League Division 1 contest against North Schuylkill.
No, she wasn't talking about the hit single from the band "Fun." She was referring to the numerous hits and singles that her young squad just put on display in a 7-5 loss to the Lady Spartans.
Just how young is Tamaqua this year? At the plate, consider that of Tamaqua's 29 official at-bats, 21 came from either a freshmen or a sophomore, who also accounted for eight of the Lady Raiders' nine hits on the day. On the mound, consider that every pitch thrown came from the right arm of freshman Bailey Pedersen. In the field, consider that Tamaqua starts four freshmen and three sophomores. That should give you an idea.
Some may say that Barron is rolling out a glorified JV team, but it's a team that has already equaled the number of wins it had all of last season (3) and is loaded with potential and promise.
"The one big positive I took out of today's game is that we didn't quit," stated Barron. "I had four freshmen starting, brought in two freshmen to pinch hit and had a freshman courtesy runner. For being such a young team, I give them all the credit in the world for showing their true colors – and showing what I know they have. I'm hoping now that they're starting to finally see what they have, and that even though we are young and inexperienced, we can still be a very competitive team."
North Schuylkill (6-2, 3-1) raced out to an early 6-0 lead after four innings of play. All three of Tamaqua's errors came in the second and fourth innings, which helped account for five of North Schuylkill's six runs.
"That's just growing pains of not playing varsity-style softball," added Barron. "The varsity level is a small ball experience, and we had some mental and physical mistakes today because we're just not used to those situations yet. We're a work in progress."
Tamaqua (3-5, 2-2) loaded the bases with only one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, but left everyone stranded when a pop out and ground out ended the threat.
The Raiders finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning with some more "underclassmen magic." Sophomore Brianna Wittig led off the frame with a double to right field and came around to score on an RBI single by freshman Juliette Reinhardt. A two-run triple down the right field line by freshman Taylor Fritz scored Reinhardt and Alexis Boyer, while Fritz came around to score on an RBI single by sophomore Carly Sassaman.
North Schuylkill added an insurance run in the sixth inning off a Hutira RBI single before Tamaqua made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh.
Trailing 7-4 with one out, Alyssa Gerhard's RBI single scored Taylor Fritz who walked earlier in the inning. With two runners in scoring position and the game-tying run stationed at second base, freshman pinch hitter Kayla Miller popped out to third base where freshman courtesy runner Madison Davis was subsequently tagged out for the game-ending double play.
"Freshman hitter, freshman runner," laughed Barron. "It's growing pains and you just have to take it in stride."
Wittig went 3-for-3 to pace Tamaqua while Fritz had two runs, two hits, two RBI and a stolen base. Sassaman also had two hits for the Lady Raiders, who proved that "Some Nights," it's "Fun." to be young!
North Schuylkill 130 201 0 - 7 4 2
Tamaqua 000 040 1 - 5 9 3
Hutira and Grasso; Pedersen and Sassaman. W - Hutira. L - Pedersen.