After opening the 2014 softball season with a pair of one-run losses, Northwestern head softball coach Jen Horner knew the importance of snaring a Colonial League win over host Palmerton in Monday's game.
After a scoreless seven innings, the Lady Tigers got a lead-off triple from Sunny Greenberg, followed by a RBI-single from Kaitlyn Bowers to take a one-run lead. After Bowers moved over to third on two straight fielder's choice plays, she was brought in, which extended the lead to two runs on a RBI single by teammate Kylee Bennett.
That was enough to provide Northwestern with their initial win of the season, and to get them back to 1-1 in the league (1-2 overall).
In the Tigers' first two losses (3-2 loss to Emmaus; 6-5 loss to Pen Argyl), Coach Horner was impressed with the effort and play of her team, yet didn't want to be satisfied with the close losses.
"I'm just so happy for the girls, because they've been working so hard, and they're all such team players," Horner related after the game. "I was just hoping that something would fall their way and we could hopefully get a win today. Because the last couple of games, we lost by one and we played quality ball teams.
You're proud about it, but you don't want to be content with a loss. We have a lot of young girls stepping up and they're playing fearless."
With Palmerton beginning their season against the Tigers, head coach Bob Hock knew about the bull's eye on his team's back, as expectations are high for some success.
Starting out with a loss is never ideal, but Hock saw plenty of positives out of his squad that will allow his group to build upon.
"Northwestern got a big hit there in the eighth," Hock responded to what the difference was in the crucial final frame. "It was a ball that I thought was going to drift foul, but it landed in and there's nothing you can do to defend against that one. Then they got a nice hit to score her after that."
No team enjoys beginning their season with a loss, but it's in no way the 'end of the world,' as Coach Hock and his roster can take the positives away from their first game.
For example, in the sixth, Greenberg began the frame with a single and Bowers got hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. However, the Bomber defense took care of the potential threat, as Pekurney struck one out, and there was a fly out and a fielder's choice to keep the score even.
"We did talk about that with the girls after the game," Hock reiterated. "Under the pressure in nearly every inning, (Northwestern) had some action going and we tended to buckle down, Kendra pitched well under those circumstances, the defense picked it up, and we managed to get out of those tough innings. Stuff like that only does a team good down the road."
The pressure was more consistently on the Bombers, as Northwestern managed to put up seven hits throughout the game and have baserunners in nearly every inning. However, that's when Pekurney would manage to work her way out of trouble, by forcing put-outs.
On the other side, Northwestern's Lydia Danner was impressive throughout, fanning Palmerton batters, and yielding only two hits to her opponents in the game.
Offensively, for the winners, the only multiple hitter was Greenberg with a single and her clutch triple in the eighth. Kaitlyn Bowers and Bennet had RBI-singles, while Claire O'Dea managed a double.
Meanwhile, Pekurney and Janal Tracy were the only Lady Bombers to get a hit, as they each had a single.
Northwestern 000 000 02 - 2 7 3
Palmerton 000 000 00 - 0 2 2
Danner and Green; Pekurney and Campbell. WP – Danner. LP – Pekurney.