Wagaman, Bulldogs shut down NW
Northern Lehigh's Julie Wagaman was on the entire game. The rest of her teammates took a little bit of time to warm up.
The senior pitcher threw a one-hit shutout and the Bulldogs' bats came alive after a slow start in a 7-0 win over rival Northwestern on Thursday afternoon.
Wagaman struck out seven and allowed only a Jackie Wear first-inning single in Northern Lehigh's fourth straight league victory.
"I was really ready to go out and have a good game. I was really focused," Wagaman said. "The offense and my defense were always behind me and I know I can always trust them, which is incredible."
Along with her work on the mound, Wagaman went 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs.
It was just another all-around great performance for the Bulldog standout.
"She truly is the whole package. She's got all the skills to do everything, a complete player, and that's a rarity," Northern Lehigh coach Brian Schell said.
The game started out as a pitching duel, with Tigers' hurler Tori Papp matching Wagaman with three shutout innings to begin the contest.
But in the fourth inning, Northern Lehigh's bats heated up. Second baseman Payton Marunich led off the frame with a solo home run to left field. Following Wagaman's triple, Kristi Seiler drove her in with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
The Bulldogs would do even more damage in the fifth, scoring four runs on three hits. The big hits in the inning were an RBI triple by catcher Erika Bowman and two-run double by right fielder Jocelyn Rodrigues.
Bowman would add a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning for the Colonial League North-leading Bulldogs.
For Wagaman and the rest of her teammates, offensive outbursts in the late innings are nothing new.
"That's kind of our pattern. We like to keep the audience in suspense until the end of the game," Wagaman joked. "We watch the pitcher a little bit and then we jump on her and start hitting."
Along with Wagaman, Rodrigues and Kayla Toth each had two hits in a game where every Northern Lehigh (14-5) starter recorded a hit.
The hitting display was a good sight for Schell, who saw his team go through a stretch two weeks back where they struggled at every aspect of the game.
"Our fielding was lousy, our hitting was lousy and our pitching wasn't great. When you get that combination, you aren't going to do well," Schell said. "But we just stuck in it and had some really hard practices and kept drilling and drilling and it seemed to have finally clicked."
Despite the loss on Thursday, Northwestern (10-8) guaranteed itself a spot in the district playoffs with a win over Palmerton on Wednesday.
Preparation for the district playoffs will be a main focus of coach Jen Horner and her Tigers in the coming days.
"I look at us getting back and working on what we need for districts," Horner said. "We have a championship to work towards."
Northwestern 000 000 0 - 0 1 1
No. Lehigh 000 241 x - 7 12 0
Papp and Wear; Wagaman and Bowman. W-Wagaman. L-Papp. HR: No. Lehigh - Marunich (4th, none on).